Ishmael Beah — Sierra Leonean Author born on November 23, 1980,

Ishmael Beah is a Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist who rose to fame with his acclaimed memoir, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. His most recent novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, was published in January 2014... (wikipedia)

I had a very simple, unremarkable and happy life. And I grew up in a very small town. And so my life was made up of, you know, in the morning going to the river to fetch water - no tap water, and no electricity - and, you know, bathing in the river, and then going to school, and playing soccer afterwards.
A lot of people, when they say 'forgive and forget,' they think you completely wash your brain out and forget everything. That is not the concept. What I think is you forgive and you forget so you can transform your experiences, not necessarily forget them but transform them, so that they don't haunt you or handicap you or kill you.
I was one of those children forced into fighting at the age of 13, in my country Sierra Leone, a war that claimed the lives of my mother, father and two brothers. I know too well the emotional, psychological and physical burden that comes with being exposed to violence as a child or at any age for that matter.
I believe in having a more open mind and including others who don't share your faith and having dialogue with them. And just having a pure heart and being a good person can bring you closer to God. Because once you believe in one particular religion fully and not others, that requires you to start disliking people who don't share your views.
What happens in the context of war is that, in order for you to make a child into a killer, you destroy everything that they know, which is what happened to me and my town. My family was killed, all of my family, so I had nothing.

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