A Long Way Gone


Sierra Leone borders Liberia and Guinea and touches the Atlantic Ocean. Its main export is diamonds. Their government is a constitutional republic.


The RUF (Revolutionary United Front) was a rebel army who fought against the government for freedoms, health care, and education. They had control over the diamond mines. In the beginning the people of Sierra Leone supported this group, but this movement soon became violent. The RUF was slaughtering villages and taking children to be soldiers in their army

Why the War Began

The Sierra Leone Civil War began when the RUF tried to take over the Joesph Momoh government. The RUF took over diamond mines which halted the governments economy. They also slaughtered villages and used the surviving children as soldiers to fight for them. In January 1999, world leaders intervened diplomatically to promote negotiations between the RUF and the government. The child soldiers used by the RUF were released by the UN and were taken care of.

Child Exploitation

Child soldiers are used in Sierra Leone, Liberia,Congo, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Burma as well as other countries.

Many young girls in developing countries are raped and used for prostitution. This is becoming more and more common in Brazil, Africa, and Thailand.

Child labor is a world wide issue, but it particularly happens in developing countries. Child labor is full time without breaks or (in most cases) pay. This fatigues children. Intense labor is bad for a child's well being. 60% of these working children live in Asia, and 23% live in sub-Saharan Africa.

What are We Doing to Help

Thousands of boys and girls have been released because of the UN Security Council. They aim at ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children in conflict. The UN has sent troops and peacekeepers to developing countries and are helping children by supplying them with food, shelter, and education

The Children's Society has been campaigning for the last 20 years and taking donations to help exploited children.

The NGO program, Save the Children, has dedicated time, money, and volunteers to help children around the globe. One category is specifically for child exploitation and abuse.

United Nation's Position

The UN held a court for Sierra Leone. The consequences would be for those held "most responsible." This did not exclude children ages 15-18. The UN was experiencing a moral dilemma because these children were abused to the highest extent, but they committed mass slaughtered of people. The public and government of Sierra Leone wanted to leave it up to the jurisdiction of the court. However the NGO, who was responsible for the rehabilitation of these children, thought it would put their program in danger. It was decided that children between the ages of 15-18 were held accountable for their actions. All others were victims.

Ishmael Beah

Ishmael is 36 years old. He now lives in the United States and is an author. His latest book came out 2014. Ishmael wrote the book in chronological order. As he remembered the experience, he would write it down. After graduating high school, he went to Oberlin. Hip hop inspired him through this dark time. He was fascinated by it and was a fan of Rappers Paradise.

Interesting Facts:

  • He was used as a child soldier at the age of 12.
  • He is a best selling author.
  • Ishmael is a passionate human rights acctivist.

The video above taught me just how common child exploitation is and where this happens. It said that at least 300,000 or more kids are subjected to abusive exploitation.

This interview with Ishmael described how terrible conditions were for child soldiers. He tells of the mass quantities of drugs that children were subjected to. He explains that the RUF used child soldiers because they could control them more easily.


Created with images by DFID - UK Department for International Development - "Now I want to be a doctor - Celina Kamanda, Ebola survivor in Freetown, Sierra Leone" • Slum Dwellers International - "Sierra Leone" • BigMikeSndTech - "IMG_5542" • T U R K A I R O - "untitled image" • Slum Dwellers International - "Sierra Leone" • The U.S. Army - "060807-F-1644L-033" • Alexis - "girl dog poor" • DesheBoard - "Indian Children" • DFID - UK Department for International Development - "So many people have lost their livelihoods - Isatu Bangura" • anil_krantz - "street life-5" • Edward Akerboom - "Sierra Leone - River Nr 2" • Superlative Retrospectiveness - "Apprehension" • tribalicious - "Ishmael Beah @ Starbucks" • thehunter1184 - "mining57"

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