Match up a horrific true story with a colorful juvenile graphic
novel format and you get something that makes Stephen King look like
an amateur in his genre. Child Soldiers: When Boys and Girls Are Used
in War by Jessica Dee Humphreys and Michel Chikwanine shows us what
happens all too often in today's world when the very young are
stripped of the protections they deserve and used in ways that leave
Chikwanine was only five when an after school pick up soccer
game was interrupted by the arrival of a rebel militia. The rebels
threw the boys into trucks. When they arrived at their destination
they were cut and a cocaine and gunpowder mixture was rubbed into the
wounds. Chikwanine was blindfolded and made to shoot a gun. When the
blindfold was removed he saw his best friend dead at his feet. And
that was just the beginning.
Let me remind you that when he was living this nightmare he was
at an age where children in more affluent societies are carefully
nurtured, protected, provided for, just starting in the education and
guidance to prepare them for a future of promise.
Sadly he was not alone. About 250,000 children serve in rebel
groups and government armed forces. Within these militias they serve
as fighters (often having riskier roles than adults), cooks and
cleaners, messengers, spies, and sex workers.
I am going out on a limb to recommend this book. Some people
would say the subject matter is not appropriate. I agree that not all
children are ready for this reality. However, for youngsters who can
deal with it there are ways listed at the end to help fight the evil
of using children in war. As Chikwanine's father said to him, "If you
ever think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a
room with a mosquito."
On a personal note, after some amazingly warm days, the weather has
become New England seasonal. Wondering when we'll get our first
snow. White Christmas anyone?
A great big shout out goes out to all who rescue and rehabilitate
child soldiers and work to make it illegal to abuse youngsters this way.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod