|The Voices of Children at War|
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STAGE READER #1: What happens to children who have been exposed to these terrible experiences? At least to the ones who manage to escape or to survive?
STAGE READER #3: All have never had the chance to complete their education or learn any skills besides warfare. Many of the girls have borne babies. Almost all have sexually transmitted diseases. Few will be able to find proper husbands.
STAGE READER #4: Many long to return to a normal life. For others, war is the only life they know.
AUDIENCE READER: I'm Musimbi. I became a soldier the Congolese Rally for Democracy at the age of 13. I have no interest in going to school. I've fought and killed many people. I'm a soldier. It's all the experience I need.
STAGE READER #2: Many find that they are not welcome in their old homes.
AUDIENCE READER: I'm Adriana. I once fought with the militia in Colombia. I am marked, and cannot walk out on the streets as there are guerrillas everywhere and they will kill me. I just can't relax; I cannot visit my family because it's so dangerous.
AUDIENCE READER: My name is Susan Kaikai from Sierra Leone. I'm a social worker trying to reunite child soldiers with the parents. We ask people to forgive because they are, after all, children, but some families will never, never accept these boys back. They are afraid. Neighbours have seen the children burning down houses, cutting off people's hands. These are not easy things to forgive.
AUDIENCE READER: My son, Moses, returned home after two years with the rebels. He is just 15. The neighbours, they provoke this boy so much. They tease him, they shout, "Rebel, rebel, rebel." It is too much for him. The other day he came in the kitchen and got a knife. He was going to stab a boy. Every day, there is trouble. I can't cope.
AUDIENCE READER: I'm Moses' father. When he left, he was a little boy. Small, nice, very intelligent, really. But now he has come home, and he is completely changed. He's violent, he doesn't accept discipline, he won't go to school. What are we to do?
AUDIENCE READER: My name is Zemwa. I'm 17 now. I was kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army. I was raped and forced to become a commander's wife for several years. But I managed to escape and a missionary helped me get to Kenya. I would like to go back to Uganda. I would love to see my family again and go back to school. I used to dream of becoming a doctor or a teacher. But I don't know if I can find my way back home, and if I do, what to expect once I get there?
AUDIENCE READER: I am Marie Manyeh, a child protection officer with UNICEF. [Children who committed atrocities in their own communities are now feared and loathed as "rebels".] If they go home, they are dead meat. We have had cases of mob justice.
STAGE READER #3: Many will bear both physical and psychological scars for the rest of their lives.
AUDIENCE READER: I am Valerie Cresson, a psychologist counseling traumatised former child soldiers at the Family Homes Movement near Freedon, Sierra Leone. Their childhood was lost. Some are so damaged, I don't think they will ever recover.
AUDIENCE READER: I still dream about the boy from my village whom I killed. I see him in my dreams and he is talking to me and saying I killed him for nothing, and I am crying.
AUDIENCE READER: I killed another child. I did this three times. I felt bad but I knew what would happen if I disobeyed. Now I see dead people and blood in my dreams and I know the spirits of the children are coming to haunt me.
STAGE READER #1: But what can people do to stop this crime against children?
PRINCIPAL STAGE READER: There is growing international outrage at the
growing use of child soldiers.
Felicity O. Yost. Source:
Marie, In the Shadow of the Lion, by Jerry Piasecki. © United