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Speaker Ishmael Beah

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[Applause] Ishmael Beah. Former Child Soldier. Thank you. I am from Sierra Leone, West Africa. As a child, I had a simple, remarkable life. I had a caring family, and a community. I went to school, played football, and listened to stories at night from older people. These were time that I laughed with my entire being. However, all these things changed when the civil war began and when it reached my part of the country. I was twelve years old, my immediate family mother, father, and two brothers were killed in the war. At age thirteen I was forced to fight as a child soldier and did so for over two years. I will never forget the first day of battle watching my friends, some younger than I crying for their mothers as life departed their little bodies and their blood covering my hands and face shooting a gun for the first time and losing all sense of remorse and the ability to exhibit any human emotion. My life became consumed with violence as it had become the only way to stay alive. I didn't think how it would end. Luckily, I was removed from the war by UNICEF and placed in a rehabilitation center where I spent eight months just to start functioning as a normal person again. It took many years to learn to live with the memories of the war to learn to transform the war experiences so that they were no longer a burden but instructional tools for living positively. During those years, I realized the importance of sharing my story in order to put a human face to the experience of a child soldier so that the world wouldn't forget about the children that continue to be victims of conflicts around the world. My work, through my writing and advocacy is to give the neccessary human context to the issue of children affected by war and conflict. By using my personal experiences, this I hope will allow people to see our humanity at all times. In times of chaos and war. I believe that when the human context is central to how any story is told it makes us see the strength of the human spirit and gives us hope. Hope, I have come to learn, is a form of strength. So my plea to the world today is for all of us to make it a responsibility to expose yourself to our world more so than ever. To learn about the lives of people and their cultures beyond your immediate surroundings. We do not only need to only lean about other fellow human beings in times of chaos or war, but also during times of peace. Through this, I believe we can see each other's common humanity and not the differences that set us apart. We can realize that regardless of where we live what conditions we live in the sancrosant nature of our lives are the same Thank you. [Applause]

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 48 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Public Domain
Genre: None
Views: 921
Posted by: pangea on May 14, 2008

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