There were all kinds of stories told about the war that made it sound as if it was happening in a faraway and different land. It wasn’t until refugees started passing through our town that we began to see that it was actually taking place in our country. Families who had walked hundreds of miles told how relatives had been killed and their houses burned. Some people felt sorry for them and offered them places to stay, but most of the refugees refused, because they said the war would eventually reach our town. The children of these families wouldn’t look at us, and they jumped at the sound of chopping wood or as stones landed on the tin roofs, flung by children hunting birds with slingshots.
– Ishmael Beah
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
I was struck reading the opening lines of Ishmael Beah’s memoir by the same feeling I often have when reading science fiction about some dystopian future. The difference, of course, is that his story is real and very much part of our present day.
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A Long Way Gone is the first-person account written at age 25 by Ismael Beah about his life as a 12-year-old boy soldier in the war in Sierra Leone. He was one of the estimated 300,000 child soldiers in over 50 conflicts in the world, hopped up on drugs and armed with assault rifles.
Thousands of children are dying in endless wars, while the survivors face a lifetime of overcoming the horrors that they not only witnessed, but committed themselves.
To learn more about the Red Hand Campaign to stop the use of child soldiers, click here: https://www.redhandday.org/index.php?id=4&L=0
But to learn why this campaign is so important, read Ismael Beah’s book:
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier © 2007 by Ismael Beah – Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux