The hidden truth of chiLd soldiers By: Corey, Donovan, Kyle, and Shakeem

Child solders go through struggles everyday . They went through poverty and even families were being brutally murdered due to war . Child soldiers went day and night without food or shelter . All they grew up around was violence , so they were use to watching people getting murderd . These child solders were armed and very dangerous. In the novel " a long way gone " is referring to how ishmaels life was in Sierra Leone. Our magazine gives more information about how tough it was to survive in Sierra Leone. It will also explain how child solders learned to survive without anyone to look up to or any help , they were on their own. A group of teenage boys were taken by the military to go fight the war in Iraq. A boy and his friend were trying to escape from the rebels and inevitably joined the war as child solders. In Sierra Leone, over 50,000 and inevitably joined the war as child solders. Our magazine explains a lot of things about Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, there are child solders that starved to death. Also, child solders were killed at war during poverty. People had no places to stay and even families where split apart. For our products Shakeem had chosen to write a poem about the struggles in Sierra Leone. Corey had chosen to discuss what effects war had on child soldiers. Donovan had chosen to make a picture book describing the life of child soldiers. Finally, Kyle had chosen to write a very descriptive story on how child soldiers replace grown men in the army.

The Scars of War

By: Kyle Hill

There I was sitting at home just like any other day. I'd just stay home all day and do my own thing. Everyday was the same thing: wake up, go to school, do my time at school, and then go home. Nothing interesting happened in my life. No horrific or well known events took place. We were in a time of peace. Well that's atleast what I thought. That changed the day a squad of military soldiers came to school.

I was in lunch at the time sitting next to my friends James and Bruce. One man emerged from the squad of soldiers that appeared to be the leader and announced that the military has weakened over the years by soldiers being slaughtered over in the Middle East and that they were going to need take young men/ teenagers to turn into soldiers and stand a better chance against the terrorists. He also added that if we did not come willingly we would be taken by force. Bruce whispered over to James and I and said “Can we leave? I don't want to go to the war.” I looked over at James and nodded. We got up from our table and walked towards the back of the lunchroom where there is an emergency exit. To our surprise there were no teachers to stop us. We pushed open the door and found ourselves standing in a field of military trucks.

A soldier stared right at us and I could feel my face turn warm. “Halt!” yelled the soldier as he marched towards us. He got all up in our faces and asked what we were doing. The three of us looked at each other hoping that someone would say something to him. No one said anything for at least a minute. The silence was broken by another soldier who ran up next to the soldier who was staring us down. There was something different about this soldier though. He appeared to be very young. I asked him “How old are you?” The second soldier replied by saying “I am 16. My school was visited a few months ago and soldiers did the same thing to me as they are going to do to you”. Bruce added “I don't want to go to war. I have an entire life ahead of me and I don't want to waste it going to war.” I asked the question that was on everyone's mind “You're a child soldier?” speaking very shyly. “Yes and now I am here to get you and your classmates ready to fight over in the Middle East. If I were you I wouldn't ask anymore questions and do what you were told. If you don't, you could get yourself killed.” Bruce started to cry a bit. “I can't do this!” Bruce yelled as he ran away. The first soldier pulled out his handgun and shot once. It only took that one bullet to put Bruce down. He laid still for a few moments. James and I were hoping he would just get back up. He never did. Bruce was gone.

The younger soldier said “I warned him. Now if you two follow our rules you will have a greater chance of living.” James and I knew what had to be done. We followed the two soldiers to a long row of desks set up outside of the school. They had lists of every boy in the school. The man at the desk asked “Grade and last name?” I said “Sophomore and Hill.” I then was taken to a truck with James that was packed with a bunch of boys from our school. Some were scarred and others were trying to act tough. It took us at least 3 hours to get to our destination. When we got out of the truck we ended up standing on an airbase full of giant planes. “Today is the last day you will be in this country until we say otherwise. If you don't know already, you are going to become soldiers for the United States military. We will quickly but effectively train you how to kill and survive over at one of our bases in Iraq. Good luck and go win us the war.” said an announcer in a suit instead of a military uniform. All of the boys and I looked around at each other. Then a group of soldiers including the one child soldier that James and I met earlier that day came over to us and directed us to one of the giant planes.

We all boarded the plane and got strapped into our seats. We flew to the military base in Iraq in great speed. Early in the morning of the next day we were awoken by the landing of the plane. When we got off the plane we were greeted with only discomfort and body bags filled with soldiers. Our soldiers. A middle aged man came to us and said “Now look at what we have here. This group should be interesting. I am Captain Rothaw and I'm here to get you prepared for war. We have a month to do this so if you do as I say you might have a chance of going home. My second in command is Corporal Ryan.” To my surprise he was talking about the child soldier who was with us back at school. “Ryan here will assist you with anything you need.” Mentioned Captain Rothaw. Ryan then gestured his hand to signal us to follow him. All of us did and he lead us into a room full of clothes. Here pants, boots, shirts, and jackets were distributed out to us. Sadly not everyone could get everything. Some of us has just boots and pants, while others had just the jacket. Nonetheless our training still would begin. Sooner than expected though. The Captain threatened us to do push ups and if we did not do them then he would beat us with his belt. Everyone of us did push ups until our arms ached of so much pain. Some of us pushed on but others would fall. Those who fell got a slash to there back from the belt. They would then struggle to do push ups for the next 3 hours with only 15 minute breaks in between each hour. Those who did not get hit by the belt at all or very little got to move on to the next stage: marksmanship.

Here they taught us how to fire weapons, reload, and effectively shoot a gun. To some it was easy and to others it was very challenging. We stayed at this station for at least 5 hours until we moved onto an obstacle course. This course had ladders that reached as high as the eye could see, barbed wire that we had to crawl under, and a mile of sand we hand to sprint through. After these three difficult stages of our training we got to go eat a large meal. The food wasn't good but no one cared since we were all starving. We followed this routine for a month learning something new everyday. From the beginning of the month we had at least 200 boys. Now there were only 137. We had lost some boys due to dehydration, losing multiple by a miss thrown grenade, and a squad full of boys were killed on a patrol a week before our training ended.

A few months had passed now and I had seen very little “action”. Another month went by and James, Corporal Ryan, and I were sent with another 20 boys to go survey an enemy base. All 23 of us sat on top of a peak overlooking a plain of sand and smackdown in the middle of the sandy plain was a small town. Well that's what we thought it was at first, until we spotted a convoy of simple cars full of men with AK- 47s in hand driving to the town. James suggested that we sneak into the base and take out any terrorists that were in there. Ryan then said “That is going against what the Captain ordered us to do.” James did care, he signaled a few other of the boys, including me, to follow him down to the base. We followed him in a line and trying to stay as low as possible and moving as fast as we could without making any noises.

We eventually got to the sandstone wall surrounding the base. “Okay men, Hill and I are going to climb this wall and locate the leader of this group. We are going to need you to go to the front gate and make the biggest distraction ever so that we don't have everyone on top of us. Okay?” The other boys nodded and quickly moved around the wall to the gate. They then started unloading their guns at the enemy soldiers. That's when James and I climbed over the wall. We hid behind a small shack until we knew there were no more soldiers running down the main road cutting through the middle of the base. We then moved towards the bases center where we thought the leader would be. We breached the front door. Luckily for us he was there. But our luck was short lived since he had at least 30 guards with him. Once we had opened the doors, every guard had looked at James and I and they started to open fire on us.

We quickly ran back outside and around the corner so that they couldn't hit us. We were cut up by a couple of the bullets but nothing we couldn't handle. The guards fired their weapons into the doorway for a few more moments after we got into cover, and then started to barricade themselves inside the building. James started to blind fire around the wall. He hit at least two of the 30 guards but we didn't know if they were hurt or killed. To kill and injure some of the guards I took the the pin off my one grenade and tossed it into the room. BAM! It exploded and launched debris everywhere. I had a ringing sound in my ear and couldn't hear anything else besides the ringing. If I could still hear I would have heard James yelling at me to watch out for the guy standing at the window above me. He shot and hit me right in the shoulder. I fell to the ground and was shot again this time in my chest. I gasped for air. James shot the guard that had shot me and killed him.

James then came over to me quickly and sat me against the wall. He applied pressure to my chest to try and stop the bleeding. He then heard some guards walking towards the doorway, so he lifted up his weapon to get ready and fight. Once they stepped foot out the doorway he shot everything he had at the guards. They then fell to the ground motionless. James then handed me his pistol and said “Wait here, I'll be right back.” He then charged into the room and only fired 3 shots until his gun ran out of ammo. The guards once again opened fire onto James but this time making sure he didn't survive. As my hearing came back I could hear the gunfire breaking the silence of the night. I could also hear the body of my best friend drop to the floor. I thought to myself, this is the end. I'm going to die here.

The group leader and his 7 remaining guards walked outside and surrounded me. I couldn't really see their faces since everything was so blurry. I attempted to pick up the pistol James had left me but I was too weak from all of the blood loss. The enemy leader gave the signal for his guards to fire on his command. I began to give up on all hope. I then noticed blurry images move in the distance behind the guards. Then I heard the shots of rifles. Not from the guards but from the blurry images from behind them. One by one the guards fell to the cold hard ground. I then see the leader trying to make a final stand as he pulled out his rifle and opened fire on the images. He didn’t stand a chance, he was gunned down immediately.

The blurry images then came closer and became more clear. By the time they came close enough I could make out there faces. It was Ryan and the other soldiers. “You're going to be okay, just try and stay awake.” Said Ryan. He and another soldier carried me to the front of the base for an evacuation. About 5 minutes later a helicopter showed up. That is all I remember until I woke up. I woke up in a military clinic at a base back in America. I was finally home. I was greeted by a friendly nurse and Corporal Ryan. Ryan and I chatted for little bit until I asked “So, when am I going to be redeployed?” Ryan then frowned and said “Due to your serious injuries you will never be able to reenlist.” I started to tear up and asked “Why bring me to the military? Why force me to join if all I was gonna do was get kicked out due to some bullet wounds?” Ryan replied by saying “We made you join because we needed soldiers desperately and having teenagers and kids join would be good because most of them are fit and are still open to learning. It wasn't my call to take you away from your life. For that I am sorry.” Ryan then left the room and that was the last time I had ever saw him.

A couple weeks later I had went back home. I rested and eventually went back to school again. Nothing will ever be the same. The things I went through left a mark on me. It had left a scar both mentally and physically. It left one mentally by showing me that we are not invincible. James learned that the hard way. It left a physical scar on me by the enemy harming me. Ever since I left the military I became more grateful for what I have because one day I never know if I'll lose it or not.

Child soldiers children book

By: Donovan Mehaffie

The Reality of Being a Child Soldier.

By: Corey Gillio

There I was sitting there in my classroom, the air cold and stale. It seemed like it was forever until something eventful had happened at our school. Until much to my surprise there were my classmates, running up and down the hallway screaming their heads off until I caught myself doing the same thing. Suddenly, there was a loud screech to the point that it was almost deafening. I scanned the area checking where the noise had come from. Much to my surprise, I turn to look at where my classmates were running and I knew immediately why they were running. Sweat dribbled down my arms as I realized that I too was doing the same thing as my classmates. Running. The reaction was almost common sense, like my instincts had been forced to react. I was neck and neck with my classmates, sprinting to the doors that held us from freedom. I and many others thought that only freedom lied behind those doors, but we were completely wrong. As I soon found out those doors were the difference from life and death. What lied behind those hellish doors was the thing we had all been running from. I knew just from the smirks they wore on their faces that we were only being lured out of the building like some sort of live stock. That was the day where I was forcefully stripped of my freedom and was to be a slave to my commanders. That was the day that disturbed my peaceful life and forced me to realize what lay ahead of the new they created.

That was the day when my school had been chosen to recruit child soldiers for the war. That was the day where I knew that what I had been doing in my past was not going to last long in the new setting and area that I had been thrust into. All around me where children to adults wearing whatever they could get their hands on and carrying their rifles close to their chest and just in reach that if an emergency were to happen they would be ready. This is what I had begun to think of as my new “life”. The Corporal and leader of the army that I was in greeted all the new soldiers from my school, including me as well. He had started off by telling us that we were needed for the war and that we need to carry out our duty to protect our freedom. As he went on to talk about who we were fighting and what we should do if faced with an enemy, but all that i was thinking about was if I was going to or if my family knew I was gone and would get me out of this hell. Soon after the corporal was done talking an outburst came from the back of the crowd, it was John. John was always the type of person to do what he wanted and ask questions later. He exclaimed that his parents would surely get him out of this mess and he would be back home in no time, except the truth was the opposite of what he just. The corporal, standing as straight and sharp as a needle, announced to everyone that he got permission from everyones parents and that they understood everything that is happening right now. The look on every single one of my classmates faces changed from confusion to as if they were looking at deaths door at this exact moment. I had begun to deny that my parents would ever give permission to have me just go out and die from these brutes, but the more i questioned my parents, the more i questioned myself. I had begun to notice, whether i liked it or not, that I was sent out to die. Sent out to be a sacrificial pawn so all the adults in my village would be safe and wouldn’t have to face the enemies themselves. I had begun to hate them. The people who had just sent me to die and cowered behind all these children to save their lives, but i had also begun to hate myself, for just letting them do what they want with me and not noticing sooner that I was just a kid meant to service them. The more and more I thought about this the more and more I felt like running away. If i ran away right now I wouldn’t have to face the enemies. I wouldn’t have to kill people. I wouldn’t have to become an empty shell just to be used by people. No. I have to live. I have to live so that i can return to the village and laugh at all the people who sent me out to die. Who saw me as nothing more than trash to just be thrown away. I need to survive. I have to kill in order to survive. There is no other way to survive than to kill others.

It has been one month since I had first arrived at the camp I was stationed at and have been filled with numerous ways on how to kill others. I was becoming more and more numb to the feelings of killing others. It had become something that seemed like it was almost natural. I had been taught how to use a knife and where the best places are to kill and immobilize an enemy. I had been taught the ups and downs of many guns and had almost become an expert of firing a weapon. I was experimenting ways of killing others. I had so many sleepless night trying to find the best way to sneak behind someone or how to divert someone's attention. This was all preparation to me in order to get my revenge on those demons that made me experience this pit of despair. We had been told that we were to go to war in one week from now. I was so nervous that i couldn’t sleep or calm myself down. I was always filled with the fear of dying to someone that didn’t know me or what I have experienced. The lone thought of all that was enough to send me into a never ending cycle of despair and loneliness.

To prepare for the day that we were to be sent to war I had made deals with the other child soldiers that they let me be in the back of the group so that I can survive. Obviously they declined at first but when I told them that I was going to get back at the ones who sent us here and left us for dead they agreed. Whether they agreed because they thought I was crazy or just downright psychotic I didn’t care. I will try any means necessary to survive for as long as I can. Revenge was what was fueling my desire to survive. It was all that I had in this broken and cruel reality I was faced with. After I had them agree to my conditions I went to my tent that held all of my belongings. I wanted to sleep to get as much energy as I could to prepare me for the war tomorrow. Time almost seemed like it had stopped and I was the only living in my own little world. It was almost morning before I had realized it and with that morning came a cold wind. A cold wind with the feeling of death lingering in the air as it passed by. I was told there were two camps stationed about a couple of miles to the north of us and we were to push into their camps and kill them and I was going to do just what he had told everyone to do. I am going to live no matter what costs or what sacrifices I have to make. Then with one final speech of how we would return triumphantly we were off.

We consisted of 3 child soldiers and 2 adults. The troops were divided into twenty groups of five. 10 to go to the first camp and the other 10 to go to the other camp. I had been paired with other blood thirsty men, eagerly waiting to kill someone and take their head as trophies to present to the commanders. I was the opposite of all of them. I will make sure to get into as few fights as I possibly can. That is my plan, but that was just wishful thinking. I knew that I had to kill in order to survive. Relying on others was just asking for a seal of death on your head. Others were as selfish as childs that didn’t want to share their in grade school. We were all independent that was the one thing all of us had in common. Suddenly, I felt the truck shake and come to a sudden halt. It was an ambush. There were enemies hiding in the bushes and behind trees lying in wait to attack us. I was hit with a bullet in my leg from the shots being fired from the sides of the vehicle. I had lost consciousness and everything I remembered up to the vehicle where a blur and I couldn’t remember anything that happened after i lost consciousness. I awoke to the sounds of guns and explosions. There was so much happening that my brain couldn’t process everything that was happening around me. It was total and utter chaos. By the time I had finally gotten up I looked around and accessed my surroundings I was in the middle of the road lying between the two trucks that delivered us to the enemy's camp. A little farther north I saw what seemed to be the war. The enemies camp was covered in flames and it looked as though there was no way for them to escape the buildings trapped by the flames. In my mind there was no way that I was going to survive after all that I had worked towards it was all going to be for naught because of a wounded leg. How pathetic can this get, obsessing over revenge and focusing on nothing else but only to achieve this goal. Pathetic. I crawled all the way to the base I laid my eyes upon and seeking the enemies I worked so hard to kill. I have to at least kill one of them, otherwise I would achieve nothing from all the hard work that I spent training. Suddenly, I felt my hand brush against something. It was the enemy that I wanted to kill so desperately. Upon impulse I took my knife, gripping it as hard as I can and slashed at his gastrocnemius muscles. He fell to the ground crying in agony as his foot that was severed and dysfunctional. He turned to see who slashed at his calf and saw me. He was struck with confusion of how did a kid immobilize me and as he was thinking that I didn’t waste anytime in making my way to his neck only to slice his throat in one fluid motion resulting in him dying. Laying there on top of the man that I had just so brutally killed felt as though I had accomplished my goal and I felt satisfied. I drifted between being consciousness and unconsciousness until everything had gone black. I passed out. Thinking to myself that these were my final moments I reminisce and think back to how school was. How I dreaded to do anything in school because it was stupid. I regret not enjoying myself then for now I have no more happy memories just the smell of death on my nose. For I knew that the smell was not from those around us, the hundreds of corpses rotting away, for I knew that the pungent smell of death had come to visit me.

It was not for 4 months until I had felt what it is like to be alive. I heard noises such as beeping and loud screeches. My mouth felt dry and I felt weak. For when I awoke I was neither greeted by death nor demise but life. I was alive. I had opened my eyes and was greeted by unknown people. I was taken aback by how they had scurried around me when I had opened my eyes. I felt weak and frail. For one reason or another the poison known as death had not taken me. Once the people around me left I lay in the bed that felt more like a sanctuary than a prison. For the first time in a year I had felt at peace. I felt like I had finally been rewarded for everything that I had done.

A few days later a man in a black suit had come through the door and was walking towards me. He greeted me saying that his name was Suliven V. Smith and handed me a letter. He had told me that my parents had died. I broke. I felt empty. He had told me that the war had carried on down to the town that my parents lived and took their lives. The whole village except for a few survivors were killed. I felt cold and I was not listening to him anymore. I look down at the letter and fiercely tear it open only to find inside the documents that presented my Mother and Father's death. I lay there broken. I felt nothing. Just as I had finally felt peace for the first time in a year it was shattered immediately. I look at the man who looked at me with the face of pity. Don’t look at me like that. I wanted to show them that I am not some piece of trash. That I am not someone you can just toss aside. Now all of that is gone. I have no way of showing them that. They are dead.

I had left the hospital 1 month later after I had found out about the death of my parents. I had formed a new goal. One that can not be achieved no matter how hard I try. That goal was to achieve happiness. I am boy, 17 and have no place that I can call my home, no one I can call my friend. I was lonely. There were no words to describe how I had felt for even if I wanted to describe the pain there was no one to listen. I had strived to obtain happiness but every time I tried to achieve “happiness” I was simply greeted with misfortunate memories of my past and reminded of the cruel reality that I was living in. Having took the poison of death I was unable to achieve the antidote of happiness. I was only greeted with pills to grant me but a single drop of this so called antidote but it was useless. The antidote was never there in my life it was only a figment of my imagination that I believed to be real. For that was what my whole life was, just a figment of my imagination that I deemed to be real. For I was neither real nor fake but just an empty shell stealing the hopes and dreams of others hoping to find nothing more but “happiness”.

"Struggles Days In Sierra Leone"

Days and days that

Past by Sierra Leone was

Full of pain and cries.

Homeless people could not

rest, they went to war

which wasn't the best.

There was no way they

could escape, even innocent

females had to put up

with rape. Being shot

at all day was no fun,

So that's why child solders

always kept a gun. Some people

didn't have shoes on their

feet while always searching

for something to eat. Days and

days that passes by, whatever

you heard about Sierra

Leone wasn't a LIE! All

these cruel stories that I

heard and read about 50,000 people

in Sierra Leone found dead

was very tragic to me.

I know these child solders

regret their ways, but I

hope that they get to

see better days. Those

child solders have a lot

to live for, especially for

going to civil war. Them

going to civil war was

nothing but pain and

loneliness! To them, going

on a killing streak was

better then them being six

feet. What a crazy

experience !! There was

a lot of people and

a lot of moms crying

from losing their kids

In this war. At the end of

It even though it was late ,

When it was all over they

Learned to finally celebrate.

God has opened up a heavenly

Gate to stop them from

Being in all of this fate.

They finally got to see a better day

even thought it was the

Most impossible way . Everything

Was as smooth as sand even

Though allot of people was

Subtracted from their land.


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The story of Ishmael Beah "A Long Way Gone"

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"What Are Child Soldiers?" RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.

Fox News." Fox News. FOX News Network, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.

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@ipsnews. "Sierra Leone Still Suffers Legacy of Child Soldiers." Sierra Leone Still Suffers Legacy of Child Soldiers | Inter Press Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.

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