Elisabeth Kasdorf is a development coordinator at the U.S. Fund’s Midwest Regional Office.
Last Wednesday evening, Ishmael Beah brought a story of hope and survival to Chicago. The author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier addressed an audience of over 100 guests at the Union League Club of Chicago for the UNICEF Profile Series hosted by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Midwest Regional Office.
Beah shared stories of his life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone and of how UNICEF was able to help him to create a brighter future.
|U.S. Fund for UNICEF/2011|
|Ishmael Beah speaking at the League Club of Chicago for the UNICEF Profile Series hosted by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Midwest Regional Office.|
Mr. Beah’s life was forever changed in 1991 at the outbreak of civil war in Sierra Leone. His parents and two brothers were killed, and he was forcibly recruited into the war at age 13. After two years, with UNICEF’s help, he was removed from the army and placed in a rehabilitation home in Freetown.
When UNICEF field workers first approached him to remove him from the war, Ishmael was unsure of the motives behind their actions. Having spent the last two years obeying the harsh orders of soldiers, he had difficulty trusting adults. When Ishmael tried to run away, UNICEF brought him back time and time again. It is in part due to UNICEF’s perseverance that Mr. Beah credits his opportunity to create a new life for himself in America. Now, Mr. Beah lives in New York City, is a best-selling author and human rights spokesperson, and serves as a UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War.
Although Ishmael’s story is one of success, there are still millions of children who are subjected to violence, exploitation and abuse including the worst forms of child labor in communities, schools and during armed conflict.
Special thanks to the UNICEF Profile Series Steering Committee Members and Co-Chairs, Joseph Silich and Wendy Serrino for their work on this event and to Ishmael Beah for bringing his remarkable story to Chicago.
For more information about the UNICEF Profile Series, please visit www.unicefusa.org/chicago.