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Dear Diary,

June 18, 1996

I can’t believe this has happened! The rebels came before they said they were. I was in the kitchen cooking when they arrived shouting and shooting their guns. I ran outside and into the bushes. My stepfather was stuck at the farm, which was in front of our house. He looked into the bushes where I was, and I put my fingers to my lips. The rebels started pushing people into a circle with their guns. My stepfather was in the circle facing me. I was happy that my mother went to another village this morning with my little brother. Everyone was scattered and hidden. The rebels demanded the group to tell them where people were hiding. At first, nobody said anything. The rebels told the group that if they gave up hiding places, then they would be let go. A look of understanding came across my stepfather’s face. He then pointed to the bushes where I was hiding. A few others had pointed out their family and friends also. Along with them, we were walking to an unknown place. I can only guess what’ll happen to me.

-

Simuta


Dear Diary,

June 20,1996

Today, I have arrived in my “new home.” The scene of my stepfather betraying me repeats in my head. It disgusts me that he could do that to me! This village is very similar to mine. The trees are green with different, colorful fruit on them. The huts are about to five feet apart. They form a circle, and in the middle of the circle is a fire pit. When we arrived, people were going about with their daily routines. Some stopped and stared at us and other didn’t even glace up. I looked around at the other people who were taken along with me. Their faces were contorted with different emotions. The rebels told us to stand inside the circle that the huts formed. The rebels explained that we would be used for various things. One of the rebels began to put us in smaller groups. After we were all separated, the rebels told us what each group would be doing. One group worked in the kitchen, another group kept kids entertained, and my group was to go to training. The groups were then taken to their designated places. My group came upon a hut with many different quilts on the floor. We were assigned a quilt and an area to sleep at. The rebel, Caneye, told us that after lunch we would start training. When he left we were alone, with only our thoughts. When they called us for lunch, I got a strange feeling in my stomach. The feeling didn’t leave, and I began to get nervous. After lunch we went to the training area. The man who would be directing us was Sergeant Ohpoo. We were given pills to take and Ak-47’s. Sergeant Ohpoo showed us how to clean our guns, put the gun on safety, and how to reload the gun. Sergeant Ohpoo told us that the guns would get us respect and power. I felt very powerful with the gun in my hand.

-

Simuta


Dear Diary,

June 22,1996

Power and respect – that’s what I’ll get with this Ak-47 in my hand. I’m jubilant because where I’m from women aren’t respected. I will show every man that they should fear me, instead of me fearing them. I am small but very powerful and that is why I’m called “Mini Grenade.” Sergeant Ohpoo favors me. He tells me that I have the potential to become a sergeant just like him. I was born to be a leader. I love being in this village with my family. They love and protect me. They make me feel superior. I get to smoke, drink, and party just like everyone else. I love the feeling of my index finger against the trigger. The first village we came upon, I killed everyone on sight. I laughed at the faces of those who couldn’t believe that a child would take their life. I love the pain that crosses their face after I’ve shot them. I take some more pills and continue with my shooting rampage. We take over many more villages. Each time, I kill more people and I get more powerful. We watch killing movies to teach us new ways to kill people. We find out that sneak attacks can be very effective. We blend in with the forest, and some of us hide in trees. We have taken over six villages so far. Tomorrow we will take over another village. I can’t wait. - Mini Grenade


Dear Diary,

July 2, 1996

Being apart of this family is great, except at night. I have dreams of my old family. In one of my dreams, my family is in a group and their bodies are lifeless I begin to cry. When I tried to raise my hand to wipe away my tears, I realized that my gun is in my hand and there is blood all over me. I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep for the rest of the night. In the day, I am Mini Grenade, but at night I am lonely Simuta. I suffered from those dreams, until I realized that pills would make me have no dreams at all. So I take lots pills. My family, we’re so fierce! Every village fears us. It started to get boring, so last night I made a kid kill his whole family. Sergeant Ohpoo thought it was a brilliant idea.

Dear Diary,

July 4, 1996

My family has been ripped away from me again! Some strange woman came and took several of us away from our village. We traveled for about three days, and we were put into this house with twin size beds lined up against the wall. The instructor tells us that this place is a rehabilitation place. Why are we here? We don’t want to be changed! We love killing people. Therapy sessions? No one goes. We hurt each other and the staff. It’s not our fault? Pssht, I bet they’ll change their minds. We’re just children? We’ll show them! - Mini Grenade


Dear Diary,

September 4, 1996

It’s been two months in this rehab center. Each day it’s the same routine. We’re encouraged to talk to our therapist. At first, we never went but now we go two times a week. It helps that I’m with kids that went through the same thing as me. I’m gradually improving. In the therapy sessions, we talk about our lives before the war. Sometimes I talk and sometimes I don’t. The more we talk about my past, the sadder I get. The therapist once asked how I became a child soldier. I started to shake and I became angry. She has never asked me that question again. September 6,1996 News has spread that war is approaching this town. I’m nervous. Many of my friends will move to America to get away from the war but not me. I have decided that I will join the war again. It will be great to be apart of a family again. The time at the rehab center will be put behind me. I don’t tell anyone of my plan because they would try to stop me. I cannot be stopped. Being in war gives me something that I would never have if I were not in the war: power. Many people have a place in the world. My place is in war. -Mini Grenade

shaynna  

child soldier

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