DEFINITION

A child soldier is any person under eighteen years of age who is “part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity including, but not limited to, combatants, cooks, porters, messengers and anyone accompanying such groups.”[1]  This includes those “recruited for forced sexual purposes and/or forced marriage.”[2]

You,” he shrilled again and grabbed little Madeleine to her feet. “Time for you to kill at last.

Kamina

The jungle grew sickeningly dark as Kamina sat pounding the casava leaves for the men.  She could hear some of the men talking in the tent and she trembled with fear, trying to hide from their sight.  She knew if she kept low and made no noise, they might forget about her tonight, and she could sleep, for once, in peace, not afraid of the continual beatings or rapes.  She rubbed her swollen arm as she pounded away.  “One casava, two casava, three casava, four,” she sang to herself as she huddled and pounded the root to a rhythmic beat.  And then she froze.

“Where is the dinner?” shrilled the captain, the leader of the rebel tribe.  She shook as she waited for his approach.  “You!” he screamed at the emaciated figure bent over the bowl. “You,” he shrilled again and grabbed little Madeleine to her feet.  “Time for you to kill at last.”

Kamina shook as the man handed her a machete.  This was the first weapon the soldiers received.  She knew from little Jericho, her friend from her village, that this was the first, and then came the guns and the drugs till Jericho was another boy – someone she couldn’t recognize.

“Me?” she whimpered as she stood unmoving, the captain’s hand clenching her bony arm.

“You!” he yelled.

“Please sir, I am just a lowly cook,” she begged the captain.

“Well, you are either a cook for us, or a cook against us, and you are only with us if you can kill,” and at that, the captain pulled Kamina into the dark bush.  Kamina blinked back tears as the captain dragged her along.  After several minutes, they came to the edge of a clearing- a village that somehow looked familiar to her.

“There!” the captain whispered as a screaming woman was pulled from the hut by one of the other child soldiers.  Kamina blinked harder as she was shoved, machete in hand in front of her very own aunt.