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Cinder
Pro Creator
2 months

Topic: Michel Chikwanine (Speaker on his life as a child forced to be a Child Soldier)

I was able to attend a Leadership Conference in London Ontario last year called GSLS (Global Student Leadership Summit) where I heard Michel speak live and he was truly amazing.

Photo #1 from Toronto, Canada by Cinder made on 2018-12-01 19:27 for Sola

His Story

"Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michel grew up amid the terror of the Great War of Africa. Much of his childhood was ravaged by the death and decay of a war that claimed the lives of 5.8 million people, his father included, and forced him to be a child soldier."

Photo #2 from Toronto, Canada by Cinder made on 2018-12-01 19:27 for Sola

No one can tell his story like him but I'll try. He was out one day after school with his friend who was a few years older than him.

His father had told him to come home right after school because there was a curfew now due to everything going on. He had gone with his friend and many other children to play soccer with a ball that was made of many plastic bags all wrapped together.

Photo #3 from Toronto, Canada by Cinder made on 2018-12-01 19:27 for Sola

While out in the field a truck pulled up and they thought it was the police until shots fired. They'd been taught to lie down if there was danger so the young Michel as he ran looked back and saw his friend lying there and assumed that was right to do. Michel was only like 5.

He was loaded into the truck with many of the other children and eventually unloaded blindfolded in a place they did not know. Then the children were lined up in two rows and their hands were sliced and rubbed with a mixture of drugs and ash to make them crazy.

Then the one row was handed guns and told to fire.(photo above not of Michel)Michel shot and when his blindfold was removed he saw that his friend lay there. The men told him that he could never go home, they'd never accept him.

Photo #4 from Toronto, Canada by Cinder made on 2018-12-01 19:27 for Sola

The kids were used to kill villagers and they were scared into this work. One day while they went out to attack, he didn't know why but he lay down and pretended he was dead then got up later and just ran and ran and ran. Eventually by whatever power he made it to the forest where he eventually recognized where to go and found a building where he dad used to take him for food.

He came home, his father was later kidnapped and then freed. The family ended up fleeing as refugees living in a tent city and the mother went everyday to apply to go to the Americas. Eventually they did, but not before his father died of illness there.

Photo #5 from Toronto, Canada by Cinder made on 2018-12-01 19:27 for Sola

The happy ending for him was getting somewhere safe. He got to the Americas in the winter and when they got out it was snowing. They'd never seen snow and he tried to get the lady on the airplane to let him back in.

Now he speaks about Child Soldiers, he's written a graphic novel, Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War.

Photo #6 from Toronto, Canada by Cinder made on 2018-12-01 19:27 for Sola

He's probably the most powerful speaker I've heard talk. If you ever get the chance to listen to him do it.

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20 comments
Cinder
Pro Creator
Author
*it says (photo above not of Michel) I'm referring the photo below it just a mix up.
10
Hassan abbasi
I want to listen 👂
8
Cinder
Pro Creator
Author
Here's part 1 but i can't find part 2 https://youtu.be/o05JJHBNyYw
26
Rufus Kohn
Does knowing the process and outcomes of war like this qualify him to take lead in an awareness campaign?
Cinder
Pro Creator
Author
He seemes very educated. We also had a speaker who was a woman who's job involved working in war striken countries and his story was much more powerful. He truly pushes to make changes in the world and inspire leadership. He's worked to bring awareness to the issues of child soldiers. I'm sure he's done further research than his personal experiences but he's made a difference in creating connections and making it much more real to people in countries where this might seem like an issue but it's not here so it's harder to many to feel like it's as real I guess.
Cinder
Pro Creator
Author
Here's a video about his book: https://youtu.be/qslC7jniHtk
10
flack
Child soldiers are honestly to me one of the saddest things about war. To steal someone’s youth and innocence like that. It’s inhuman. Being forced to kill friends an family deliberately to destroy their conscience. Being drugged and lied to. And often when they return home they are feared and hated. It’s utterly evil.
20
Hilda
Heartbreaking evil.
Cinder
Pro Creator
Author
Definitely
10
RozziRoo
I don't know how you made it through the entire talk...I would have been in pieces 😢
30
Cinder
Pro Creator
Author
A lot were crying, including him for a few minutes though he's good at keeping it together.
15
Hilda
Me too, RozziRoo... I’d have been a blubbering mess. Cinder, I’m glad he can cry about it... that means he has emerged terribly damaged but victorious, because his humanity has not been taken away from him by those evil men.
15
Cinder
Pro Creator
Author
Hilda, That's true.
10
Asad
I want
Cinder
Pro Creator
Author
You want what? I doubt you want to be a child soldier so please explain your sentence.
artisto
The same way ISIS used children in syria and Iraq!
10
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