Sanan grew up around the army because his father was a soldier and his mother died when he was six months old. After his father was made a prisoner of war by the national army, Sanan went to live with his uncle’s family. Tragically, though, his relatives never quite accepted him as family. When Sanan was nine years old, the army came to conscript his uncle’s children, but his uncle sold him instead.
Sanan was in the army for three years of what he calls “agony.” He recalled his first day, when the “boss” soldier boy had him gang raped by the other boy soldiers. They then sent him out to collect old bottles and cans to sell for recycle. He continually had to pay his dues to the boy soldier leaders. He was their personal slave when done with his soldiering duties and they would often torture him on a whim.
Here was an average day, according to Sanan:
“As a soldier, I had 24-hour sentry watches and was forced to keep alert. It was extremely rare if I didn’t have early morning training and long runs as well. The days were abusively hot, and I often scoured the hillsides many miles for firewood, split the wood, and worked the farms. The nights in the mountain winds were freezing. It was then that the reality of my life often hit me and I would lie awake and cry with no blanket and little hope. Many nights, the only thing that kept me going was the thought of my father getting free and coming to rescue me.”
But his father never came. We rescued Sanan when he was eleven, and this is his reality now:
“My house parents are good to me, like my own parents would have been. I used to be scared of many things, including dark spirits in the hills and trees, but now I’m not scared anymore. I now want to learn as much as I can so one day I can help my people and guarantee a better life for them…”
Sanan is one of the hundreds of child soldiers we’ve rescued and represents the hundreds of thousands that we have yet to rescue. Join Us.