A Long Way Gone

Watch the short video and answer the following questions:

–          Why did Ishmael Beah write “A Long Way Gone”?

–          Why should this memoir be read by as many people as possible?

–          What personal information do you get to learn about Ishamel?

http://www.meettheauthor.co.uk/bookbites/1539.html

The following interview is very thorough and it reveals us lots of things about Ishamel Beah’s life.

He  tells a powerfully gripping story: At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. At sixteen, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and, finally, to heal.

Watch the interview and note down what aspects and contents of the interview struck you the most.

My new friends have begun to suspect I haven’t told them the full story of my life.
“Why did you leave Sierra Leone?”
“Because there is a war.”
“You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?”
“Yes, all the time.”
“Cool.”
I smile a little.
“You should tell us about it sometime.”
“Yes, sometime.”

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.

The average person in Europe knows very little about child soldiers in the world.  We think this “plague of the heart and  soul , of the mind and the body”  hits Africa only.  Look at the following footage and learn a bit more about this stark reality.

Ishmael mentions the terrible conditions of child soldiers and the demobilization and rehabilitation steps are mentioned.  If you want to know more about the way a child soldier can move back to a “normal” life, see the following webpage:

http://www.un.org/en/africarenewal/vol15no3/153chil2.htm

In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.

This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.

You can get to know more about the life of the author, you can have access to his webpage and his twitter page (really worth looking at it, beautiful images) by clicking on the link below.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/ishmaelbeah

Then, should you want to get a taste of the language “A long Way Gone” is written in, start from this excerpt.

ALongWayGone_Excerpt

I was personally struck by the reading of this book and I am even more amazed at the resilience and stamina this young man has proven to have in his life.  He came to terms with his war experience, he wrote about it to sensitize the public opinion of the appalling conditions soldier boys are subjected to, of the hellish existence, or better, non-existence, they are obliged to live.  On top of that he managed to set up an organization to help young people like him overcome the trauma of an unwanted war.

http://www.beahfound.org/Beah_Foundation/Home.html

Watch the following interview and listen to the following audio clip

Different young people from all over the world came up with different projects to sensitize people to the issue of young children being kidnapped to be turned into “killing machines”.  Which project do you like best? What would you personally do to spread your knowledge of child soldiers, to protest against the abuse of childhood and adolescence to fight wars?

http://vimeo.com/43058744

http://mayajames.edu.glogster.com/a-long-way-gone-by-ishmael-beah/

What would your booktrailer be like?

15 year old Madeleine came to the UN to testify about the horrors of life at the hands of Thomas Lubanga as a Child Soldier.

http://youtu.be/_6IMjnwztTo

This project compares the differences in living conditions in different part of the world.  I constantly ask myself and tell my students: how come I was born in a condition of serenety and democracy.  As a child did I deserve better than other kids in the world.  Obviously the answer is no and I would add that it is just by sheer luck that I was born free, I could study, and I could be brought up in a country that safeguarded my rights as a child and now as an adult woman (regardless of all the contradictions any state and country reveals).  The only thing as a teacher and educator I could do was that of asking you, my students, to read this memoir and think about an issue (child soldier) so distant from our own lives.

What would your t-shirt look like?


Leonard Cohen’s words pierced my mind.  The line “there is a crack in everything” made me think of the cracked mind, soul and body of a child soldier.  I think that we can all make a difference by contributing to child soldiers’ heart being filled in with our cry “we care”.  So please donate and help them.  I did it! Follow my suit.  You can well renounce topping up your mobile phone for a week, it is just $ 10 but what is little for us makes a great difference in the cracked heart of a former child soldier.  Let’s help them recover from the emotional disasters that wars “brand” in them.

We can all contribute to helping with the rehabilitation of child soldiers.  Make your contribution, make a difference.

http://www.projectak47.com/

http://www.child-soldiers.org/

Who are child soldiers?

The Coalition considers the term child soldier to be equivalent to the following description of children associated with armed forces or groups:

 A child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to any

person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or

used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but

not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters,

spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is

taking, or has taken, a direct part in hostilities.

Read more about child soldiers:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/people/features/childrensrights/childrenofconflict/soldier.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/people/features/childrensrights/childrenofconflict/soldtxt.shtml

Girl soldiers

Face to face with Joseph Kony

In Leonard Cohen’s words I wish child soldiers the healing of their spirit and the healing of their mind

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47 risposte a A Long Way Gone

  1. Adua scrive:

    Reading “A long way gone” made a difference in my way of seeing life. This memoir, written by Ishmael Beah, is a touching story of a child soldier who went through hard times characterized by conflicts, war, deaths and pain. I think reading this book has been important to understand war a little bit more. I’ve been studying wars and conflicts for many years at school but reading this memoir was something totally new. In my opinion the strength of this book was the ability to make you see beyond weapons and tanks in order for you to see the human side of war, the pain and the suffering that are typical of these facts. I’ve never felt war as close to me as it was while I was reading. Everytime I clearly see there are serious and real problems in the world I realize how lucky I am and how stupid being upset for silly things is. I have understood that freedom and wealth are not granted as I give them for and that I should be thankful for all that I have. A way to do that could be trying to get to know more about the issue and do something about it. For example, I didn’t know child soldiers were girls too. I wasn’t fully aware of sexual abuses and above all of how difficult rehabilitation is.
    Also, I found this beautiful song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIoKr9VDg3A
    “For what it’s worth” is part of the soundtrack of “Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam” and “Coming Home” and it is a song against war in Vietnam. I particularly liked the sentence “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong” which I think summarizes the hidden key concept of war: violence is wrong and no one that makes war is right.
    “I think it’s time we stop, children”

  2. Alice Piccolo scrive:

    SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK:
    MORAL MESSAGE. I have not read many books that tell true stories like this, but every time I do, I am usually struck by their power. I think the writer was incredibly brave to publish this confession. His story is not very common; he lived a war, became a child soldier, committed lots of crimes and recovered in a special clinic. If I were in his shoes I would not be able to tell all this to the entire world, because I would fear to be judged. However, I believe Ishmael Beah’s experience marked him forever and changed him a lot. After he lived and survived those brutalities, he felt he had to do something to stop other children from fighting someone else’s war. He understood that he was very lucky first of all to survive the war, but especially because he could escape from Sierra Leone, go to school and live a teenager’s life. However there are thousands of other boys who are living a totally different story. These young men or sometimes children have to do terrible things, often without knowing it, because under effect of drugs and alcohol. In this way they miss one of the most important period of time in their life: the adolescence. Even if it is not always a happy and easy moment, it is the one in between childhood and maturity, when a person should be trying and thinking the most different things and eventually decide what is best for him/her and what kind of person he or she wants to become. Child soldiers overleap this carefree moment and are thrown in a real war where they have to kill innocent people and fight against other kids that were just recruited by the opposite army. This is just one story and it is impressive to think about how many children are fighting wars around the world. Moreover I found this book very interesting because of its setting. Most of the wars we (in the Western world) are aware of are those in the South East, i.e. in countries where even our own government has sent soldiers to defense its economic interests such as fuel, gas etc. Although, we rarely hear about the African countries that are so little influential in the worldwide economy. Sierra Leone, Somalia, Eritrea, Libya are only few of the many where there are or had been civil wars, that beside of causing the death of millions of people, destroyed the economy of the countries, leaving the remaining people in a critical situation. In my opinion it is simply a shame that in the year 2012 countries that pass themselves as upholders of democracy and civil rights still place their economic issues before poor people’s lives.

    PUZZLING ELEMENTS. I was impressed by the boys’ behavior at the clinic. They have been deeply brain-washed by their generals. At first they cannot realize that they are not in war any longer and are again the simple teenagers they were before. As soon as they find out that there are some kids that were part of the opposite armed force (rebels or army soldiers), they pull out their guns and start beating up one another. After several months of therapies they still suffer from withdrawal symptoms and cannot sleep properly because of their memories of war that do not let them rest. Moreover, I was very surprised while reading about Ishmael’s life as a soldier: his whole day is surrounded by violence. He amuses himself listening to other soldiers’ war stories, he does not even sleep at night because he watches war movies that involve him so much that when he and the other soldiers assault a village to free it from the rebels, he tries to copy Rambo’s techniques. He is not able to think about his previous life without violence any more: killing people has become a daily routine and he begins to like it and feel addict to it.
    HOW THE BOOK IS LINKED TO THE COUNTRY I LIVE IN
    Luckily in Italy we do not have such thing as child soldiering. However I believe we have different ways to take advantage of children. We pretend to be civil rights guarantors, but we allow children to work for us, not in Italy of course, but in countries like China, Indonesia and Vietnam, i. e. where most of our clothes are produced. Everybody knows that lots of the workers in big brands’ firms in Asia do not work in legal and decent conditions, but nobody cares, because since those workers are not expansive, the industry does not have to waste money in paying people higher wages in the country the firm is from. Very often those workers are even children forced to work instead going to school and live their childhood.
    MOST REPRESENTATIVE PASSAGES IN MY OPINION
    I think there are two fundamental passages in the story. Te first one is Ishmael’s life as a soldier, because until this very moment, although he has already seen what the war looks like, he is still escaping from it and tries to be as much distant as possible from it. When he joins the army instead, he is totally living the war, he is even who is practically fighting it. The second important moment is when he is at the clinic. Only when he has to become the boy he used to be, he (and we) understands how difficult this is. The war experience completely change him and the other kids. Moreover this made me think about the immigrants we have in Italy, we often judge them as people that have come here to steal our jobs, but we do not think that they are here for a serious reason. What if some of them lived what Ishmael experienced?

  3. Valentina scrive:

    I consider “A long way gone” a beautiful memoir that, as the Washington Post says, “everyone in the world should read”. It is a book about war and its consequences, about family and what it means to lose it, about suffering and pain, about trust and loneliness, about hope and never giving up. I strongly believe it gives us a lot to reflect upon, something nowadays we are not really used to do. We all have our pretty lives: we wake up in the morning, go to school or work and complain about bad weather or stressful days. We do not think about the fact that somewhere else in the world there are problems much worse and bigger than the ones we are used to face in our daily routine. We do not think about children that are forced to fight a war they do not even know the meaning of, while everything they should think about at that age is playing and having fun. But who cares about them? We are so selfish and absorbed in our own little world, that we don’t even think about a possible solution. And I believe this is the main lesson I received from the memoir. Reading this book made me ask myself: and what if it had happened to me? What if I hadn’t been so lucky to be born in this country, where I’m free to have a normal life, free to express my feelings, free to breathe? Freedom is something we all have the right to have, and unfortunately it is the first thing missing in Ishmael Beah’s life as a child soldier. He’s not free to avoid war, he’s not free to decide not killing other people, he’s not free to even think. He is brainwashed by people that tell him rebels are people who “do not deserve to live. That is why we must kill every single one of them.”. He is forced to become one of them, to take someone else’s life in order to safeguard his own. And this is the reason why rehabilitation isn’t so easy as it may seem, because, as he says, “a change of environment wouldn’t immediately make them normal boys: they were brainwashed to kill”. I was totally struck by Ishmael’s inner strength, which made him overcome such hellish moments he went through. Seeing him in the interview really impressed me and made me think about the importance of organizations such as the one he himself founded. Living in first person an unwanted war is a terrible trauma enormously difficult to overcome: we have to help and support the organizations that help them rehabilitating and reintegrating in their society.

  4. Sara Perin scrive:

    When I first read the book I was shocked by all the dramatic events that Ishmael had to face: I knew about child soldiers, but I could not really imagine what sort of situations they actually go through.
    Now, I am even more shocked by getting to know that child soldiers are present all over the world, not only in Africa. We tend to consider this continent as the only one where certain things happen, but it is not true. War is everywhere and the phenomenon of child soldiers is common even in other countries.
    Most of the people do not even know about it, as I do and I think this is unacceptable. There should be more information or better, people should be more interested in it and care about this kind of problems.
    Another thing that shocked me was the fact that we take for granted that only boys are involved in war, but there are also a lot of girls that are obliged to wear uniforms and take part to it. I think that for girls it is even more difficult to bare, because they do not have only to fight and get through dangerous situations, but they are often victims of violence and slavery. Besides, if people do not know much about child soldiers, then they know even less about girl soldiers. I think we should start to face this problem, even if it does not concern us directly. In my opinion it is our duty to fight against this phenomenon: there are many associations that just wait for us to help them.

    Sara Perin 5F

  5. Silvia S. scrive:

    I really enjoyed reading this book event though I must confess it was a bit difficult at the beginning because of the harsh and ruthless images and scene that were depicted. But then I thought it is just the description of a reality that actually exists.
    I personally have difficulty in believing that there are really children who are torn from the bosom of their family, recruited in the army and obliged to kill people.
    I really cannot believe, or maybe I do not want believe, that their childhood is denied for fighting a war. They discover to be able to do such terrible acts and maybe they also feel powerful and almighty having a weapon in their hand.
    Apart from that I was struck above all by how Ishmael managed to start a new life, not forgetting what happened but coping with it!
    If you think he went through all kind of violence, both physical and psychological. He is strong, resilient, brave to face his past and willing to start afresh but always with links to his old life: he does not want to wipe it out, on the contrary he wrote the memoir in order to raise awareness, to sensitise people and make them helping him fighting for the cause.
    I do really recommend this book because it widens your horizons.

  6. Erika scrive:

    Reading “A long way gone” has been an enlightening experience for me, from different points of view.
    First of all I was certainly struck by the main theme of child soldiers, a plague spread almost all over the world that touches-as I could get to know by the blog-both male and female, even if in different aspects. It has been awful and sometimes nauseating reading about the violence (both physical and psychological) perpetrated to these children, about what they were obliged to do in order not to get killed or tortured and how they were subtly brainwashed. Above all I was impressed by how sudden the passage from a normal life to a nightmare could be: it is a shock how Ishmael one day is depicted as a young boy with his family, with his creek of friends, the passion of music and the dream of becoming a rapper, and the day after is portrayed as one of the child soldiers we sometimes read about in the newspapers. It is at that point that we increase the awareness that actually there is no difference between “him” and “them”. In this sense I think that the author has completely succeeded in touching the hearts of the reader, “giving a face to these experience” (his declared aim), showing the human side of the story: reading information in a newspaper, in a website or watching a documentary on TV is certainly moving but it is felt as a sort of a distant reality; yet plunging directly into Ishmael’s mind who is living the experience-with the awareness that anything that he narrates is fiction-really distresses us, since we understand that child soldiers were people just like us.
    Another important aspect that I would like to point out is the ability of the author of delineating both the scenes of extreme terror and brutality in the context of the war and the small but important events as he was on the mend: I was really touched in particular by how Beah has coped with all the horrors he had gone through, with his extreme strength and motivation, with his will of starting afresh despite having lost almost all the people he loved. I think that only a person who has experienced this reality can give all the right nuances to the story, and in my opinion Beah did it beautifully.
    To conclude, the author with his book gave me the opportunity to reflect also beyond the issue of child soldiers and to consider all the fields in which children are subjected to violence, from sexual abuse, to the sell of kids and even to the domestic mistreatments. Violence has repercussions in everyone of us but I think that, if related to children, it is even more brutal, since it may scar their growth and their balance for ever or for at least for a long period of time.

    Erika Capovilla-5^F

  7. Silvia M. scrive:

    “killing became as easy as drinking water..” I was totally shocked by the reading of “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah. I think it is a book that really deserves to be read, I think it is a book that completely changes your attitude both toward yourself and toward the world. the appaling story of Ishmael, who was forced to join the army at the age of 12, the account of the dehumanizing process he underwent, of the violence he had to go through, of the pain of losing both his family and his humanity….I really had to stop to think at one point, in order to try to understand how such horrible things could happen-and how they can still happen nowadays, in more than 25 countries in the world-; I had to try to make out how people can just pretend not to see what is going on in several places all around the world, how they can ignore the fact that children and children are being robbed of their family, of their childhood and of their humanity at last. the most shocking thing was that I was not aware of that too. I course I knew there was this problem of child-soldiers, but it was so abstract, I mean, I could not possibly imagine the kind of terrible suffering and psychological turmoil they have to go through. as a matter of fact, the most shocking detail was the fact that what Beah was writing was REAL. he had really grabbed an AK-47, he had really experienced the daily violences, the killings, the fires. he had lost his family overnight and he had been forced to become a soldier, ending up doing the same things he had hated, inflicting others the same amount of pain he had suffered himself. I was astonished by the utter readiness of losing yourself: the madness-as Beah names it- enters your brain and your heart, it shakes you and it dehumanizes you. the unbearable pain of the loss bewilders you, you fill up with anger, you are not able of independent thinking anymore…and all that violence going around, the daily massacres, the never-ending fleeing from the war: you are litterally pushed into the arms of the army, which becomes the only way to get some protection, to survive. as Beah says in the interview, “the choice was kill, or being killed”. becoming accustomed to it takes very little: the repetiveness of the killings, the brain-washing process, the use of drugs end up making you believe there is nothing beyond that. violence becomes your life, the army your family. it is a sort of vicious circle, but the good point is that we can stop that. there are several associations which are involved in taking children away from the army and making them undergo a rehabilitation process, in order to give them the possibility to be part of society again. as Beah says, without the intervention of Unicef he would not be alive now, he would not be telling his story. we can all help somehow, and we really have to.

  8. Veronica Moro scrive:

    While I was reading “A long way gone” I realized how many things I do not know about children’s exploitation. This is a cruel reality. The story that is told is real, it happened and more and more people should read it because the world can’t always close its “eyes” and pretend that it’s all ok. Everyone should know about this fact because it is happening also right now in some parts of the world and maybe one day someone will stop this actions. Ishmael Beah wanted to write this book to make people understand how children are recleuted to fight in wars happening in Africa.
    He has been shocked when he came in the United States and he realized that no one knows about Sierra Leone. So he decided that it was necessary to explain to the world how wars and conflicts are essential elements of human being and to make partecipate people around the world Who are living wars and being victims of tragedies.
    Ishmael Beah was a child soldier for the Sierra Leone Armed Services. Before the arrival of the war he used to be an happy child living in his village but then became a killing machine. Thanks to the Unicef, his nurse and his extended family he learns how to forgive himself and how to let the love coming back in his heart.

  9. Elisa Luisetto scrive:

    I enjoyed reading ‘A Long Way Gone’ because it gave me the opportunity to know reality in part unknown to me. Nowadays we often hear about child soldiers, children who at the age of 6-9 years are introduced to the bloody war, are armed with rifles and they are taught to kill, but I never understood fully what this meant. Ishmael Beah, writing this book wanted to let us know the cruelty, the difficulty in which he grew up and where today many other unfortunate children grow. With this witness perhaps he also wanted to find a way to forgive himself, because even though I personally do not accuse him of anything, because it’s not his fault, he was forced to do what he did, he, like any other person with a heart, feels guilty for the lives he took away.
    This book should be read by as many people as possible, many do not have the slightest idea of what happens in those regions, or do they not want to realize it. People who give everything for granted, who complain about every single thing, and I’m among them, should read this testimony and reflect on the great fortune that they have living in a country like ours, on the luck that they have many facilities which many boys of our age in some poor regions of Africa have not. Because, besides this book giving us a testimony of what the child soldiers face everyday, also makes us understand their conditions and their standard of living.
    It’s only thanks to the UNICEF if his life has changed, if his life has become better, if Ishmael could start to believe in himself and in others again, could begin to love again.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      You are not to be blamed for not knowing. I did not know myself and I learnt of these tragic events in adulthood. At your age I was not as aware of things as you are, so…be proud of yourself. I am definitely of you!

  10. Sara Rosso scrive:

    In this book we understand how a war can change us and our country, but especially how it can destroy our life.
    What really impressed me is that these children saw all thesw horrible things. In our society childhood should be full of fun, games, love and other positive things, but the childhood of these children has been ruined by death, violence and blood.
    Another thing that really impressed me is how people react to catastrophic events: they lose their mind and just run to save themselves and their beloved. In the book the author says that when he arrived in his town, he saw a woman running with her child on her back, but he was dead, killed by a bullet aimed at her. He also saw a man that was running too, but with his dead son in his arms and was talking to him, saying that it was all okay and that he should not worry. There is also a passage where the narrator/protagonist says that he met some people and he tried to talk to them, but they treated him in a detached way. They did not trust him.
    This is how a war drives you crazy. You cannot realize what is happening. You just try to survive.
    It is also mind blowing that a person who is living peacefully in the blink of an eye can see his life changed for the worse and turned into hell. During this war whole villages were burned down and destroyed and people didn’t know where to go, where to sleep or if they would find some food.
    They tried to find safety in the military bases, but what they found was a ringside seat to war or death. Some of them were saved by some organizations, but most of them were killed.
    We cannot even imagine what life must have been for the author and his fellow friends, but I think that this book makes us understand the predicament and sufferings caused by war. And this is one of the reasons why Ishmael Beah wrote this memoir: to make us aware of what happens in the world and to make us understand what a war does to the human spirit.

    Sara Rosso 4^M

  11. Marta Morandin scrive:

    Fortunately, we live in a free Country where children have safeguarded their rights. This is not the same thing in many countries where kids are abused and their rights are not respected: this is the case of child soldiers. I read that there are more than 250.000 children, from 7 to 18 years old, recruited in 42 countries all over the world. Often they are kidnapped or, while fleeing from war because they are separated from family, they are taken by rebel armies. According to Ishmael Beah, author of his memoir “A long way gone”, rebel armies recruit children because they are cheap, they have no salary and uniform. It is more easy “work” with children because armies can manipulate them psychologically and many times, they are pump up with drugs that can stop them to exhibit their emotions. In this way the children have the courage to pull the trigger and start killing people, also friends and relatives. Ishmael said that at the beginning, he had nightmares, was scared and was really hard but then, this life became his life and it was more easy like in a game.
    The testimony of Ishmael Beah is important because can make us more aware of what war does on human beings and the author has a lot of courage to tell his story because he has to live it again, as if the pain continues to plagued him.

  12. Giulia Vendrametto scrive:

    There are many movies and videogames that have as their central theme the war. These ones are often watch by children, which see the war like a game. Parents buy to their children tanks toys or soldier toys to recreate some scenarios and play with them. Nobody realizes that, what for us is a simple video, for many people is the reality. When we see a war movie, we used to think about it like it is all a fiction, but this is not the truth. Yet, we joke about it, we know that there is but we do nothing to stop it and find a remedy to this horror.
    The author dwells a lot on the use of drugs, such as cocaine, and he said that they brought him out of himself, to the point of no longer recognize himself, to become a stranger even to his own body. How many people instead, in our country, use the same substances for fun? Is becoming so difficult to fell happiness without these disgusting things? Childhood is been removed by African children soldier, but we are lucky because we have freedom, but we decided to use these substances that we know that they are unhealthy for us.
    I was shocked about how Ishmael tells his own story with so coldness and reality, in a real shameless way, without hiding details that maybe could embarrassed him. I think he is really brave. The children soldier are forced to fight, and this is their life, if they wanted to live. Instead, in our country we continued to think that welcoming refugees is the only way to help these people. But it is not the truth, we have to recognize the little things and learn to appreciate them, rather than continue to complain all the time, especially when there are people who are living this tragedy.
    Instead of wasting money on foolish little things, it would be better to spend it to help these angels, because for me the volunteers are so, to help these people to return as they were, able to love and live as normal as possible, learning to appreciate themselves although the gestures made.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      You are right Giulia, it is a shocking read, but as you point out, it opens our eyes to a reality we wouldn’t otherwise know of.

  13. Irene Piva scrive:

    There are no words to define how incredible and sad this cruelty is. All these children are deprived of their childhood, their right to play with friends, to dream and to be happy. It is terrible to think that there are people who are able to ruin all those lives, because all the kids, who are forced to kill, cannot forget the horror of war and those images will stay in their minds forever. Unfortunately too often they are not able to survive, they die with a gun in their hands and fear in their eyes. They are just kids! This horrifies me.
    In my opinion Ishmael Beah is very brave, not only because he wrote this book which shows us the traumatic reality of war, but also because he feels to speak about what he lived. He saw terrible things that I cannot even imagine, I am sure he has nightmares of them, but he still deals with them.
    What he wrote in “A long way gone” makes me think that I am very lucky to live here, in a peaceful place, but also that we must, as humans and all brothers and sisters, do something to stop this crime to humanity.

  14. Laura Zuccolin scrive:

    “A Long Way Gone” is a touching book that makes you understand the pain and the frustration felt by Ishmael Baeh, the author and the protagonist of the book, who become a child soldier at the age of 12. This is just one of many cases of children who like him were torn to freedom, and have been led to war and violence. In the world there are more than 300,000 children engaged in a conflict, and that means that all these guys have been deprived of a fundamental right that every human being on earth should have: freedom. Freedom to live their lives in their own country, without fear of being killed or having to kill because someone imposed it. Freedom to play and go to school. Freedom to do all the activities that for us are granted, but not for all those children who live these situations. See those videos and read his testimony made me realize the luck I have, since I have a family that loves me and friends who support me always, but it made me also realize the importance of TALK AND SHARE THESE EXPERIENCES . If we continue to talk about certain topics just because we have heard something about it from somebody, we could never really understand the emotions, the pain, the fear and anxiety that children as Ishmael felt. So I think that the most important thing to convey all this is to write, write and write. And when you can not write you have to resort to the word. Interviews, participate in conferences… all this is important, because many times with the words you can recreate the scene in the minds of your listeners, to better understand the feelings. In this regard, a few years ago I went to hear an elderly Holocaust survivor, and I do not remember the story of her life, but it stuck with me the story of her escape from the concentration camp, the fear of being discovered that made her shaking constantly, but also the joy of return to be free. In conclusion, I think that everyone should stop “ignoring” what is going on in the world, on the contrary, we should fight for their salvation, for their freedom, because we were born with the same rights as those kids, and for this reason we need to safeguard them. Many organizations are already doing a lot for child soldiers, but obviously we have to help them for a better world, and we have to do it quickly.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      You point out an important aspect Laura, that we should all act promptly, we should not waste any time. If people in power do not speed up the process of peace making and peace keeping, lots of people and lots of innocent children will suffer, and this is unacceptable to us, isn’t it?

  15. Andreea Zaharia scrive:

    “There were all kinds of stories about the war that made it sounds as if it was happening in a faraway and different land.”
    A long way gone, written by Ishmael Beah, is an authobiographical story that tell what the autor lived when he was 13 years old, becoming a chilld soldier. He became a ‘war machine’ and he had to kill the enemies or to be killed by them.He also began to make use of drugs and his childhood was destroyed forever.
    His family was killed by the rebels and he became even angrier for what the rebels did. “Too much blood has been spilled where you are going. Even the good spirits have fled that place.” This sentence was representative for me because it shows the cruelty of the war and the soldiers don’t look in the face no one. They kill who they have in front of the, without carring if it’s a man, a woman or a child. For them it’s a simply “routine” to kill people for what they think is freedom.
    Also when Ishmael was brought in Freetown, he continued to have nightmares all the nights and still now have them. This will acompany him for all his life.
    This book shocked me because I didn’t even knew about the situation of the child soldiers. I think it’s a good book and it made me open the eyes about what is happening arround the world, mostly in Africa.
    This “massacre” of childs is still going on in more than 25 countries in the world but no one seems to be interested in that. They prefer to close their eyes and let this happen againg and again. Child than should live their childhood but they are they are forced to join the army because they hope they would have a better life.
    Most of them are killed or suffer mutilations, and childs who survive to the war will bring with them all this memories their entire life.
    In my opinion someone should do something about this situation and I reccomend to all to read this book. To know that there are childs that live in different situations and we can do something to help them.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Children should be guaranteed a life characterised by dignity. Children should see their rights safeguarded, everywhere in the world. There is no doubt about this!

  16. Corinne D'Andrea scrive:

    The actuality of this memoirs of Ishmael Beah is incontestable. In fact, whenever we hear about children soldiers we all think about a remote plague that affects only Africa or distant countries. But have we ever spent just one minute to really think about this terrible demonstration of dehumanization? Child are drugged, stunned and bombarded with senseless ideas, until they become part of this rhetoric, or better, someone else make them believe this. Then it begin to generate in themselves the idea of membership and family, which consolidate the relationship between the kids and the commando. They are brainwashed and they are ready to kill. At this point children have become part of an unwanted war and they don’t even realize that. This should be completely unbearable for humankind. We are talking about future, we are talking about people who one day will become adults and will have the same distorted ideas of reality and justice that they have grew up with. We all know that children are like sponges, they soak up every instruction they receive. So what they will learn about the atrocity and the violence around them? How will they get over their experiences if they won’t be as lucky as Ishmael was? These are just some questions that should make us think about how many human rights they’re loosing and how many rights we don’t have in common. Children represent future and they must not become part of the conflicts of adults, unrelated to them.
    I consider this book a big opportunity for everyone to learn more about this heavy facts which seem so far from our countries. The steadiness of the author, his clarity and his vivid memories are an important chance to sensitize the public opinion and to strenghten our awareness about issues that too often are set aside.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      You stood up and spoke out. Well done.
      I would be interested in getting to know a bit about the point you make, that is acquiring distorted ideas of reality and justice. This interests me. Let me know what your ideas are (one to one, I do not want you to write anything in the blog. I am interested in hearing them from you, privately. I would really love to.).

  17. Camilla Cimarosti scrive:

    Reading the book “A long way gone” has made me think a lot about the human side of a big problem in our society: the war. I am sure that everyone of us, also the strongest man in the world, will never have enough psychological and physical strength to face up this situation. I honestly still cannot believe how hard it has been for the author, not only to survive during the conflict in Sierra Leone, but especially during the rehab. Once you are forced to do terrible things, once you have been brainwashed and once that you have killed someone several times, it is unbearable to live with those experiences.
    While I was listening to his words in his interviews, I tried to imagine how would it be to kill someone who’s the same age as you are or to kill a woman, a child, a baby and even naturally a man. How it would be to look in the eyes a child before killing him or being killed by him.
    In my opinion it seems impossible to consider a child or a teenager holding a gun and shooting to people without any problems. And you know why? Because we are not born to kill! It is simply something against our nature, it is inhuman.
    It shocked me to think about the cruelty that a man should have to give a child a gun. It is absolutely not about courage! It is about using young minds, which still have to grow up, confusing them and showing them a different and wrong truth of the world they live in.
    In this way it is easy to manipulate them and treating them like objects .
    There’s so much anger in my mind by thinking about these things, that I really would like to ask to the rebels or to the government’s army (in this case) how would it be if, instead of unknown children, they would have their sons or their daughters in front of them. Would they be so cold-hearted to keep on making the same mistakes? I don’t think.
    But we should not think about this kind of remedy or any other: it must be something that comes to light by yourself.
    Another impressing fact that Ishmael mentioned was that, when you’re a child soldier, you live in a sort of madness full of solidarity for your command. You feel a weird sense of attachment like if they were your family.
    You lose yourself completely , “so deeply that it becomes the only thing that you do. Your world is all you know and you enjoy it. This life becomes your life and your reality.”
    I personally think that this is really unfair, it becomes an addiction. The command takes, word for word, an enormous and fundamental piece of your life. They have people in their hands and they “play” with people’s lives like puppets.
    In the end I would like to say that, in my opinion, while you read this book, you can really feel the pain and the emotions of Ishmael Beah. You are completely absorbed in the story, that when you stop you ask yourself: “Is the protagonist of this cruelty really that young? “

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      You’re right! When I read the story I myself wondered how it is feasible that such a young boy could survive the ordeal of the war, the psychological and physical abuse of the adult leaders. Yet, I learnt that despair, eagerness to live, endow you with resilience before unknown to you.

  18. Silvia Basso scrive:

    Ishmael Beah went to school. He used to play soccer. He used to sing. He used to dance with his friends. He had a family. He was happy, like a little boy should be. But the war destroyed everything too fast and his life changed… he changed. He writes in his book that “things changed rapidly in a matter of seconds and no one had any control over anything”. What can a singol person do to stop something so bad like the war? Nothing. Contrary a singol person can spark off a war.
    Besides, during a war people stop trusting each other, and every stranger become an enemy. Even people who know you become careful about how they speak to you. I think that unity is strength, but during the war too many people are alone. I have always thought that bad things happen to other people. But how would I act if there was a war in my country? We have needed too many years to attain the equality of rights, for example between men and women (not in all the countries). Contrary we just need a war to lose everything.
    The phenomenon of child soldiers is not well known and Ishmael Beah wrote the book for this reason, too. People should read the book because they can help this poor children for example with the rehabilitation and understand the unknown situation. We can help them, but memories stay forever. “Memories I sometimes wish I could wash away, even though I am aware that they are an important part of what my life is, who I am”. I think that nothing remains the same after a war, most of all a child soldier.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      It is wonderful the way you identified with the protagonist/narrator and the question you posed yourself “how would I act if there was a war in my country?” Thank you.

  19. Greta Mazzon scrive:

    A Long Way Gone is the true story of Ishmael Beah, who becomes an unwilling boy soldier during a civil war in Sierra Leone.
    Ishmael Beah was a child soldier for the Sierra Leone Armed Services during the civil war with the RUF, the Revolutionary United Front, known as the rebels. The rebels are blamed for the death of Ishmael’s family, and his soldiering is motivated by his desire for revenge.
    Ishmael’s story is one of personal transformation and survival. Before the war, he enjoys a happy childhood in his village. During the war, he becomes a killing machine capable of horrible acts of violence. When UNICEF rescues the boy soldiers from the front lines of war, Ishmael is rehabilitated. Through the love and compassion of his nurse and extended family, Ishmael learns to manage his anger and to forgive himself for the war that wasn’t his fault. He learns to accept the help of others and to use his story to educate the world about the atrocities of how war affects children.
    The author has written this book because he wants to explain readers to action, essentially asking them to find ways to end the abhorrent tragedies occurring not just on the African continent, but all over the world.
    I don’t even know how to explain it! What really amazed me was the fact that this is happening. I didn’t even realize that these things are happening in our world today! I recommend this book to anyone . The way he explains the things he sees and how he just loses everything really gets to me. I keep pondering on one single question:how does one regain their humanity after going through such pain and sorrow?
    I can only imagine how much guts it took to write a story like this. He is a proven example that no matter what you through in life, there is always a chance of things getter better and brighter.
    There is always a second chance. Everyone in the world should read this book.
    Not just because it contains an amazing story,we should read it to learn about the world and about what it means to be human.
    I think that the author also wants to transport us into the lives of thousands of children whose lives have been altered by war and it does so with a genuine and disarmingly emotional force.
    I must be honest I struggled to understand how you could hear a baby after what he experienced. Unfortunately not always ,the society made to see the cruel reality and that’s why I’m glad to have read this book.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      I loved it when you posed yourself the following question: “How does one regain their humanity after going through such pain and sorrow?”
      I did not quite grasp what you wanted to say when you state: “I must be honest I struggled to understand how you could hear a baby after what he experienced.” Let me know.

  20. Giulia Petozzi scrive:

    LITTLE SOLDIERS:
    Watching all those videos makes me think a lot. How is it possible that 300.000 children are little soldiers and we just know a little of this problem? I have really loved to go deeper into this argument. Sometimes we do not think how lucky we are to be born in a democratic State. We even do not think that those children could become the new Einstein or could find the treatment for a tumor or for AIDS. And even if they do not become a known person, who cares? They have anyway the right to LIFE, because taking turns at the guardian posts around the village, instead of playing soccer in the village square, is not life. How Ishmael Beah says it is difficult to be a young person in the war and the world should help them and their future would be bright. Every child has the right to have a beautiful childhood and no one can force him doing something against his will. I really admire Ishmael because he had the force to write his terrible story. Also if it brings back to his memory horrible things, it is right that the whole world knows how war really is. Also all the children soldier should read this book to have the strength to rebel against their cruel tyrants and let good people help them. All of use, the “lucky ones”, should be like the willings that go on caring for helpless little soldiers.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      The word-pair “little soldiers” is more powerful than “child soldiers”. I like it. I am happy to read you appreciated the book and most of all the opportunity to learn something “out of the ordinary” (by this I mean something school books do not touch on).

  21. Ilaria Canton scrive:

    I really enjoyed reading ‘a long way gone’, first of all because it tells about a terrible fact, that we feel really far from our lifes child soldiers. This kind of memoirs should be writed in order to avoid these tragic events in future.This book teaches you how can be hard to live a war and how many pain they had. The most important thing it’s that this doesn’t have to repeat. It’s terrifying thinking that a lot of childern are obliged to fight. They need to play, not to struggle. They should run because they are playing, not because of the war.
    The army enlists children because they are cheaper than adults, they drug them and send them to fight. It’s inconceivable all this cruelty. In my opinion, war is always wrong, but it’s worse when the army uses childern. They treat them like objects, they do not care about their life. Childhood it’s really important because children absorb all the experiences they have and they must live with them, because the memories are indelible. As times goes by, these soldiers will never forget the psychological and physical violence that have suffered. Maybe we could not stop wars, but we must prevent that children join in the war.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      When children are brutalized their adulthood is “derailed”, impaired, compromised for ever. This is sad, isn’t it? So sad. A brutalised person cannot contribute to the betterment of his/her community. The chances that that victimized child become a victimizer himself are high. It is a vicious circle. Victimized children can bring about other victimized children. Instead of full-blooming trees, we are left with stumps.
      I loved the image you created: “Children should run because they are playing, not because of the war”.

  22. Cecilia Canton scrive:

    Ishmael Beah book’s “A Long Way Gone” talks about his own experience as a child soldier. He write every episode in a raw way that makes you feel sad but, at the same time, I think that is the “right” way to explain it and to show us the reality of the facts.
    I already knew about the child soldiers, but only superficially and now that I know much more I am shocked about how these children live, or better how they try to survive in a war situation.
    Their childhood was stolen to make them become “killing machines”, by taking away their innocence and their joy. These children are abused, they are drugged and are used to killing. I was curios so I have searched others information and I have found that also girls are used for sexual purpose.
    It is incredible the way we do not know our world and how much we ignore the situation around it. We all get up complaining that we have to go to school or to work, without even imagine, that at the other side of the Earth, to who knows how much children was taken out this opportunity, this right.
    Ishmael has done the right thing writing this memoir. He has understood that all the people have to know what are happening and that there is something that it must be done.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      I was as taken aback as you by this appalling reality, this is the reason why I wanted to deal with you and other students the topic of human rights and how they are brutally denied to many people in the world.

  23. Sebastiano scrive:

    Ishmael beah wrote this book because he wanted the whole world to know what is happening to a lot of agrican and asian children. Many people does not know how the facts are and what these poor children are living. Personally I found it really interesting and useful to understand how lucky we are.
    2. This memoire should be read by ad many people as possible because all human beings should know about these atrocities and should start taking action in order to stop this injustice.
    3. Reading the book I learnt that Ishmael has had a great willpower to begin a new life in a new city, with new people and a new family. The greatest this he has made was to accept the reality.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Yes, you are right. Ishamael’s greatest and most valuable quality was to accept what happened to him.

  24. Federica Vazquez 4^M scrive:

    A long way gone is a book that I read all in a rush because I simply could not put it down.
    The story was written in a very simple way that made it look like you were listening to Ishmalel Beah telling it in person, like you we’re there with him and living it too.
    When I first started reading the book I had little knowledge on what was happening in Sierra Leone in the ’90s and even less on the civil war or child soldiers apart from what you heard on tv or read on the newspaper, so this book really opened my eyes.
    I greatly admire the courage and the resilience the author had to overcome everything what has happened to him and the brilliant idea he had to share his memories to the world so we can try to understand what he went through and what happened there.
    Something I found very peculiar in the book was the role music played, Ishmalel used to dance and listen to hip hop and he used to carry videocassettes which actually saved his life a couple times in the book and when he got separated from them he was very saddened because I think that they symbolized his life before the civil war, the good ole days. In some parts of the book it looked like they were also his anchor to go on with his life, to continue to fight just in order to live, to be alive long enough to see a life not destroyed by the war.
    Legends and local stories told by the elders played a key role in the story, for example I particularly like the one that said “we must strive to be like the moon, because no one grumbles when the moon shines. Everyone appreciates the moon in it’s own special way.” Or the one at the end of the book that the elders used to tell the kids , there was a hunter and a monkey and the monkey said “if you kill me your mother will die, if you don’t your father will die. Who will you kill?” This usually left the kids in a state of confusion because they didn’t want to see either of their parents dead and so they never gave an answer but Ishmalel finished the book with the answer he finally concluded was correct, even though he would never have told his mother ” if I were the hunter, I would shoot the monkey so he would no longer have the chance to put other hunters n the same predicament.” To me this shows how much inner strength Ishmalel already possesses and it moved me.
    The roller-coaster of emotions you are put through in the book are draining, and it is shocking because we are only reading it so I cannot imagine what it must have felt living them. The family he lost, all the friends he saw die right in front of him, the loneliness he felt living alone in the forest, the remorse of all the people he had to kill.. It is simply mind blowing!
    This book shows us the harsh living of a boy who had to grow up before his time, who had to see the destruction that war causes, a child who began to think that death was better than living in such conditions. In fact people in that time were afraid of children, because of child soldiers who were drugged to do the things they were asked to, which is unspeakable. No child should be put through all of this in fact I was relieved when in the book the UN finally came to save Ishmalel and some of his remaining friends and finally begin to help them on their way to recovery. In the rehab center you can clearly see how hard it was for Ishmalel to understand that the UN was trying to help them. For these kids going through the withdrawals from the drugs, the nightmares was pure hell and since they lost their ability to trust they also wouldn’t ask for help. They had a twisted view of the world from all the brainwashing they had gone through and as you read their struggle to become normal again you feel sorrow, how can people do these atrocities to innocent kids, how can they even have the courage to expose them to such horror!
    The guilt to be alive the kids carry after they are rehabilitated sometimes becomes too much to carry and here I hope that the families were they are relocated , especially the mothers, (when there are no relatives left)show them all the love of the world and protect them, make them feel safe in order to quiet the inner struggle that may appear at times.
    Personally I would suggest to all, my friends to read this book because it makes you think about different issues that are so distant from our everyday life but aren’t for others, also it makes you realize how lucky we are and how much we take for granted.
    In the end to help these children there’s isn’t much I could do apart from hoping that if the opportunity comes for me to volunteer I would gladly accept it and try to be there, even just for an ear to listen or a hand to hold, for all the children who are trying to overcome the horror of their memories.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      A heart-felt and thorough feedback. Thanks. I appreciate your words and most of all I am happy to see you always work hard.

  25. Valentina Mussio scrive:

    Well, I think that Ishmael Beah wrote this book in order to not forgive what was a part of his own life.
    He used to live in Sierra Leone, a country where the war destroyed thousand of lifes.
    When he was a child he was recruited to be a soldier and then he lost himself.
    With drugs, that the commander gave to him and his companions, he was capable of shooting with guns and killing people, he could not separate what was good or evil any more and the commander became a sort of father, because that was his reality.
    He was saved by Unicef, which takes him to rehab and lets him have an education in New York.
    His professor at high school pushed him to write a memoir of his experiences, becase this is a story to be told.
    Ishmael thinks that occidental society has a romantic view of what war is, and with his book he wants to sensitize the pubblic to children soldiers and re-give people the idea of real war.
    He said that he will never be able to forget and he has still nightmares and flasbacks. He learned how to forgive himself as a boy soldier and to continue and appreciate his life.
    Recently Ishmael founded an organization to help children to overcome the war and go on, as he did. He supports Unicef and other organizations socially active with boy soldiers, because between them there could be other peacemakers, who could help solving this condition.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      You gave us the nuts and bolts of the book, but did you like it? What was your response to it?

  26. Valentina Lucchese scrive:

    “A long way gone” is a really interesting book, that shows in a direct way how a war can deeply change a country that was previously peaceful. I don’t like reading so much, and honestly I found this book a little bit burdensome because of all the long descriptions, which I don’t appreciate too much in books. But going on with the reading I started to be draw in the narration.
    The story gives us important and decided feeling. The images that the book gives us, through the voice of The writer Ishmael Beah, make us think because they are true images he saw with his own eye. He felt for real the pain to be alone and couldn’t do anything to change this. He felt on his own skin the terrible feeling to be involved in a war and had to hold an AK-47 in order to save his life.
    This kind of books really deserve to be read, because people who hadn’t lived any kind of conflict can’t imagine and understand the pain that people who had lived this situation felt.
    People who live in counties in which various conflict are in place must be helped, in order to avoid and prevent that other situation, like the one Ishmael had lived, doesn’t happen again.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Dear Valentina, Thank you for your wonderful feedback. I know that this book is not the kind of book you would pick and choose in a bookshop at your age. This is the reason why I love promoting and investigating issues with you (in class) that otherwise you would never consider. You are young and you can make a difference, but to do so, you need to be informed of things that should interest any human being. This is the reason why I wanted to deal with difficult reality of child soldiers.

  27. Elidona Arapi scrive:

    When I first started reading this book I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard before of children recruited in armys used for active combat, but I wasn’t aware of the hell they have to go through. The book shows how once the children are recruited either by the army or by the rebels their only purpose in life becomes to kill. And that becomes their everyday reality, a cruel reality that they have to put up with. Once separated from their familys, children are trained and transformed into killing maschines. They’re emotionally and psycologically manipulated until they lose touch with reality and themselves because they don’t see a way out from the hell that they’re obliged to live in. Children are constantly brainwashed and drugged to the point that they don’t know what they’re doing anymore. They just seek any form of confortation thay can get and therefore like Ismael says, even the commanders begin to represent paternal figures to them. This way they take advantage of their fragility and play with their emotions until children entirely lose clear conscience of what is actually happening around them. Children start getting used to killing and feel powerful and protected by those people who start looking like family to them. Ismael explains in several interviews that children get attached to the commanders and to their groups, to the point that they feel like they owe them their lives and therefore they feel as if they are supposed to be loyal and faithful to them.
    These children are obliged to live in a nightmare that seems endless, but if we intervene and start doing something to guarantee to every child in the world the right to live their childhood freely, as well as it should be, maybe these horrors someday will come to an end. Nobody says that it is an easy goal to achieve, especially if every year more and more children are being recruited, but we have the moral obbligation to start taking action in order to safeguard children, because nobody has the right to expose them to such suffering and horrors. There are organizations like the UNICEF that are taking measures to protect children’s rights and drag them away from the war. The process of rehabilitation is challenging, but all that these children need is someone who shows compassion and someone who does not give up on them.
    It is hard to perceive the reality that children have to face especially for people like us in countries where our rights are not violated. So we definitely must consider ourselves lucky to be born and live in a place where we have the right to live our childhood, the right to go to school and the freedom to decide for ourselves and our future without being conditioned by nobody. I highly recommend reading this book because it brings to our sight realitys that go beyond what we’re used to and it makes us self-aware of what is happenig in the world.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      I really appreciate the fact that in your feedback you focussed on the psychological impact the child soldiers are subjected to and on the turmoil they are plunged into. Though it is a bleak reality caused by the local governments and politics, this does not mean that international politics should remain passive. This is the reason why knowing about the appalling experience child soldiers are subjected to is mandatory.

  28. Amanda Poles scrive:

    When I was about ten years old and I was at primary school, I new classmate became part of our class. I was very happy because he was Columbian and since I had just arrived from Peru, I felt really like him, because we were both South Americans and mostly because we both speak the same language, Spanish. I was really contended, I finally found someone to talk to. In fact we talked a lot, but it was not as I expected. When we conversed about the reason why we had left our country I said that my dad was Italian and that my parents had take the decision to live here and something similar while he told me things that at that time shocked me. I do not know how but he and his family left Colombia because of the civil war. I do not want to say that I did not know about the the existence of the war but I did not imagine that a kid like me could live what he lived, in a country that I thought it was like mine. He recounted me that he had seen a considerable number of dead people lying in the streets, that he saw people running around with guns and shooting each other and that his older bother, who had two or three more that he, possessed a weapon and that some times he had shot someone. I think that for him everything was normal or at least it was nothing horrible, as conversely it was for me. I do not know if his experience was like the Ishmael one, I think that only living that horror you can truly understand. The reason why he wrote this story, his story, was exactly to explain us what happen in that part of the world. He has shared and narrated memories, moments and feelings about the war in his country and his experience like a child soldier.
    I do not believe that either of them could be able to forget the past and what they have seen, but I think that is fundamental to inform the world about this kinds of crimes that is necessary to stop. We have to stop this beings, that can not even be called people, that force or do brainwash to children and send them to death. UNICEF has saved Ishmael and it’s only thanks to this organization if his life has become better and if he now could have a serene life, I think that we can make the difference.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Thank you for sharing this experience of yours Amanda. I feel sorry for the guy who had to go through that terribel ordeal. What about the memoir? Did you appreciate reading it? Would you recommend it? Why (not)?