The unmaking of a boy soldier

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Manage episode 267061905 series 1301438
By BBC and BBC World Service. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Ishmael Beah was just a boy when war reached his village in Sierra Leone and he was forced to flee. In the chaos, he was separated from his family. He ended up with a group of other children at what they thought was the safety of an army base. But instead he was taught to become a hardened killer and sent out to fight. Nearly three years went by before he was finally rescued by child protection specialists from Unicef but he was so brainwashed that he didn't want to leave. It took months of careful rehabiliation and the support of a very special woman to break through his defences. In 1996, at the age of just 16, he gave a speech at the UN in New York where he spoke out about his experiences. His testimony formed part of a pivotal report about the impact of armed conflict on children. A decade later, he would become the first Unicef Advocate for Children Affected by War. Today he is a bestselling author, who has just written his second novel, Little Family. He is also married, with three children of his own. This interview contains disturbing descriptions of violence. Presenter: Jo Fidgen Producer: Jo Impey Photo: Ishmael Beah Credit: Priscillia Kounkou Hoveyda

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