Saturday, April 14, 2012

Book 68: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Baeh

Ishmael Baeh's life is one full of struggle and internal conflict, and ultimately, triumph. The child of a Sierra Leone miner, Ishmael was brought up to be a respectful, productive member of his village. He and his family were abruptly uprooted from their home when rebels invaded and destroyed their village, killing without conscience.

Ishmael's escape and later coersion into becoming a child soldier showed me the inner workings of the mind of a brainwashed child. Children only 6 years older than my own sweet son are driven into being child soldiers because of their own desperation and need to belong.

I was a bit surprised by this book. It struck me over and over that given identical circumstances, I might be one of those crazed rebels. Every child needs a safe place and feel accepted.

Ishmael's story of rehabilitation gave me a new respect for UNICEF. Their therapists looked past the horrors and took the time to unearth the children inside.

A good book, I think I would have liked to know more about Ishmael's life now, and how he has used his experience to help others.

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