A Long Way Gone: Ishmael

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War. Not the kind of war kids play with toy guns and dramatic deaths but the kind of war where kids are killing kids and death is an everyday occurrence.

Ishmael Beah was 12 years old when the opposing army, The Rebels, attacked his small town, Sierra Loene. Ishmael fled leaving everything important to him behind. His family, home, and possessions were all gone. With only his brother and nine friends, he ran away. For two years they stayed away from the rebels walking from town to town looking for their lost families. Ishmael lost 8 of his friends and eventually his brother along the way. With only Alhaji left they were found by the army and made to fight or be killed. They used their rap and hip-hop skills to remain popular between missions. To these two gentle-hearted boys killing became a way of life.

At the age of sixteen Ishmael and Alhaji were chosen to be removed from the fighting by UNICEF. Upon arriving at the rehabilitation center two boys were killed with hidden knives and guns because they were rebels. The others didn’t care that they too, were forced to fight. This didn’t come as a surprise to the workers; the kids had been doing it for most of their lives. Ishmael entered therapy with kind young women named, Esther. After many months of vigorous therapy Ishmael opened up and finally accepted his new life.

With the help of Esther and many other individuals, Ishmael found an uncle of whom his father rarely spoke about and went to live with him and his family. He was enjoying meeting his long lost relatives when he was invited to go to a conference in San Francisco for kids who survived terrifying things and wanted to educate others about it. He was chosen out of millions of kids to speak about child soldiers. He immediately agreed at sent his forms away to the conference officials telling them he was coming. He had problems getting a passport but that was quickly taken care of by the workers from his old rehabilitation center in an effort...
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