Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
By Ishmael Beah
Sarah Crichton Books
I am Ishmael Beah and I was born on November 23, 1980 in Sierra Leone. I did have a mother and a father, and my older brother, Junior, but they were all murdered by the rebels in my country. I was one of the few that survived the attack that occurred in my village. Early in my childhood, I lived a normal life. I attended a Muslim elementary school and I rapped and danced in my free time. It wasn’t until I was twelve years-old when I had to leave that life. That was when the attacked happened. I struggled to stay alive and I was extremely desperate. As I wandered around Sierra Leone, a few friends and I had to find food and shelter. Many of them, however, died along the way. By age thirteen, I was taken in by a government army. Our government was corrupted and destroyed many villages. As I said, I was desperate so I followed them. I killed countless of people to just stay alive. I had to follow every order they told me so I had a roof over me. That life was the only life I knew. I became a child soldier.
In 1996, I was invited to UNICEF rehabilitation center. At first, I was really uncomfortable with everyone there and I wanted to go back to the army. Honestly, I wanted to kill every one of them there at the time. I suffered from drug withdrawal and overwhelmed by violent flashbacks. But as time passed on, I learned how to sleep normally and sit still for more than a few seconds. Later then, I moved in with my Uncle Tommy. He took good care of me and treated me like a son. In 1997, I was invited to speak at the United Nations in New York. That was when I met a Jewish-born storyteller, Laura Simms, who later adopted me and had me stay in New York. In the Unites States, I received a B.A. in political science from Oberlin College. I now live in Brooklyn, NY and work...