Friday, 3 December 2010

They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children

Finished December 2
They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children by Romeo Dallaire
Stayed up late last night to finish this one as there is a waiting list for it at work. It is a heavy subject, but a very readable book. Dallaire writes in a very conversational style and the book is written like it is speaking to you directly. There are three sections where he has included a fictional child soldier and fictional UN peacekeeper to help show the feelings, and reality of the experiences.
He talks about the situations that create child soldiers, the community repercussions, the international repercussions, and the work of Child Soldier International. The last chapter is what we as individuals can do to make a difference for this issue.
He offers hope by showing the progress that has been made in understanding the problem, and has concrete examples of next moves that can be made. These children that have become child soldiers are not just small humans, but also weapons, used by their commanders as another expendable, easily replenished tool in their arsenal. The wars they fight are often more internal criminal actions with no real end goal, than they are traditional wars. They pit children against their own people, making it hard for them to go back to communities, if those communities even exist any more. He also shows that there are a variety of ways to deal with these soldiers, depending on their unique situation and their gender. Yes, many of these soldiers are girls, and they aren't just doing the chores and acting as "bush wives", but also leading other child soldiers. These girls often have more trouble integrating back into the community than the boys, as they no have no traditional value as a marriage offering, and may even have rebel babies that come back with them. Yet, he offers ways to help these young soldiers as well.
I cried, yes, but I was also left with hope that we can do something about this situation and help not only those who are now or have been child soldiers, but also work to prevent it from happening. This is an important book for policy makers to read, because as we all know, the world is smaller than you think.

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