Sihow came to live at our safe-house 6 months ago. He was a child soldier for about a year
before he became a deserter. This is his story:
“I wasn’t ever registered as a soldier; my older brother was. The soldiers came to our house and read his name off the village register. My brother wasn’t in the barracks very long before he fled, and to this day, we don’t know where he is. So the soldiers came back to our house and took me away instead. Someone from our house was required to serve and I was next in line.
I was required to train all day, and at night I stood alert to guard. There was little to no sleep. When I was caught dozing off, I was given a hard punishment by the troop leader. The food was bad and there was never enough.
I knew my brother would never return, so I was stuck. But I thought, “if he ran away, maybe I could too.” So I did.
When Sihow came to our safe house, he told us that if he could study in our program he wouldn’t have to be a soldier. Unfortunately, we knew that wasn’t enough given that he was a deserter. So our director went and negotiated with the provincial governor. They’ve since given Sihow permission to stay with us until the equivalent of about 9th grade. So for now, he’s in our care and studying in the 4th grade.
Our goal is to equip him with other skills to protect him from becoming a front line soldier and give him a good government job in the future. The work PROJECT AK-47 does often requires delicate maneuvering and working between different political agendas and cultural contexts to protect children.
Sihow’s story was featured in our End Of Year Report. Click here to read the full report and see what made 2013 such a great year!