Having seen the movie, Blood Diamond, and having collegues who work in Sierra Leone, I was aware of the horrors of the war that took place in the 1990s. I was not aware, however, of the full devastating affect of the war on children who got caught up in the conflict after they were orphaned. This incredible book was written by a boy who lost his parents as a twelve year old.
From the back cover:
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 the fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and, finally, to heal.
Having my own boys who are now 13 and 11, it struck me that Ishmeal was their age when this horrible situation occured in his home country. I cannot imagine my boys being called upon by the US government to kill other children and adults for over two years in horrifically violent ways. What is even more startling about this book is that Ishmeal Beah made it out alive and was able to get a college education in the USA. This book is beautifully written and captivating to read.
I hope to lead a group to do a short term missions trip to Sierra Leone in 2010 and look forward to seeing our team leader from Sierra Leone, Jusu Wai-Sawi when he comes to visit in July. This book is not for those with a weak stomache, but it is well worth the read if you want to learn more about the impact of war on children and the country of Sierra Leone.