|The Voices of Children at War|
| 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
AUDIENCE READER: I am Dieudonn, aged 16, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I joined Kabila's army when I was 13 because my home had been pillaged and my parents were gone. When I found myself alone, I decided to become a soldier. Usually, I was at the front-line. I'm only a little soldier. I should return to school.
AUDIENCE READER: I am Daba from Ethiopia. [My friend and I] both...saw our parents being killed by the Ethiopian army. Without anybody else to help us, we joined the [Oromo Liberation Front], the only organisation in Ethiopia fighting for the rights of the Oromo people.
AUDIENCE READER: I am Elinda Muriqui, a 16-year-old volunteer with the Kosovo Liberation Army. Why should I look forward to living when my sisters are being raped and when children are dying in their mothers' arms of starvation? I'll die happy if the first bullet kills me. I will die for freedom of Kosovo.
STAGE READER #3: Many children join out of ignorance, imagining that they will find adventure or simply unaware of what war means or why it is being fought.
AUDIENCE READER: I am Tamaris. I fought with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia. One day, some men who rule [where I lived] arrived and told me I had to fight against bureaucracy...I don't know what bureaucracy is, and, in three days, they taught me how to handle weapons.
AUDIENCE READER: I joined the Indonesian army because I was hungry. If I knew I was recruited to do this, I would have refused and stayed hungry.
AUDIENCE READER: I'm a 14-year-old girl fighting with rebel troops in Sri Lanka, who kidnapped me when I was only eight. I didn't know why I had to fight government soldiers. A rebel leader just told me that I had to kill as many soldiers as possible for independence...At marching drills in the hot sun, I was frequently punished. I really was not very good. I just want to be a good girl and have a normal life.
STAGE READER #4: For some children, the military represents the only source or power in a chaotic world.
AUDIENCE READER: I'm Pikou from Angloa. I was a big guy [when I joined the army]. You know, 14, not just a kid! I executed the commanders' orders with pleasure. We had been conscripted in the army, given the need to expand troops to fight rebels. We underwent a kind of informal training in 'Camp Base'. Twenty days were enough before we were given uniforms, boots, and everything...I didn't flee because after all the army had (and still has) an upper hand on the ground.
STAGE READER #2: Some children, however, believe they are fighting for a worthy cause. Others grow up in a culture of violence or want to take revenge for the ill treatment they or their families have experienced. Others want to prove their manhood or patriotism.
AUDIENCE READER: I am 16 years old. My name is Ismail, I'm Albania...I will join the KLA - these are my brothers and my sisters. We must try to achieve our big dream: Great Albania.
AUDIENCE READER: I am a 16-year-old recruit with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) in Kashmir. I pray to Allah in all my prayers to give me a martyr's death, but not before I have killed at least one Indian.
AUDIENCE READER: I'm Ardian. I'm 17 and live in Kosovo, where we are trying to win independence from the Serbs. I'm being trained to fight for the cause. We did not have choice. Anyway, I wanted to join the army. I started to train. We walk, we run...Next week, I will learn to shoot with a Kalashnikov.
STAGE READER #1: What do these children experience when they join the military?
STAGE READER #3: Combat! Most received little or no training and are often placed in the most dangerous situations. In many cases, unarmed children are used to lure the enemy into ambush. In some situations, children are forced to cross mine fields to make them safe for regular troops. All experience violence and death first-hand. And receive little or no medical care when they are injured.
Felicity O. Yost. Source:
Marie, In the Shadow of the Lion, by Jerry Piasecki. © United