(Kathlea Francynn Gawani Yangot, my 12-year old 7th grader, came home today from school, the Philippine Science High School, and told me about a powerful documentary her class watched. It is about the civil war in Sudan where children were its helpless casualties, she said. I told her I wrote a poem about child soldiers and promised to share it. Here it is. CLDY)
By: Cheryl L. Daytec-Yangot
Thousands of children are serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. These boys and girls, some as as young as 8-years-old, serve in government forces and armed opposition groups. They may fight on the front lines, participate in suicide missions, and act as spies, messengers, or lookouts. Girls may be forced into sexual slavery. Many are abducted or recruited by force, while others join out of desperation, believing that armed groups offer their best chance for survival.
-Human Rights Watch, 2013
He is only ten according to his birth records
But if we measure the thickness of the steel
his heart became, if we count the people he
mangled or killed, he already died. Old age.
He is that man holding a Galil. You’re younger
but he was never your age. You fell in love; you
were not born while missiles were shaking the
fields. His mother wept at the miracle of his
life in the midst of perdition. Hope. Not like
his father’s -lived by the gun, died by the gun
Alas, out of her womb, he was not her child
Jolted by bombs while suckling from her breast –
became too heavy for a mother’s arms. Learned
to hate before he could learn to smile. Look at his
eyes: hollow, bloodthirsty. You ask, does he know
there is a world where music fills the empty
spaces in the air? Did he have half a chance? He
heard nothing but violence sending grounds
and the nights quaking, razing homes, sinking
mountains. He got deaf, seen more: the heinous
face of death in everyone he could have loved
if he had your fortune. Got blind. Got lost in the
loss of innocence as soldiers were pouring poison
in rivers, raping girls and women. He fires his
Galil; how the oppressors roar with vile pleasure.
He is one of them, but he does not know- for he
knows nothing, not even his beliefs. He is part
of their loot. You see, as always, war is business
He is too old. Mothers say he will not grow old.