A Long Way Gone

by Ishmael Beah

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Which three events greatly impacted Ishmael in A Long Way Gone?

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One event that had a major impact on Ishmael Beah was the Revolutionary United Front’s raid on Mogbwemo, his home village in Sierra Leone. Although he and several friends were outside the village boundaries when the raid began, they were not safe. After trying to go back home, they realized the danger and futility of doing so and ran off together until they felt they were safely clear. After that point, Ishmael and the other boys were homeless and on the run. The incident precipitated his life of constant insecurity. The boys struggled to avoid capture by the rebel soldiers. He managed to escape, but the loss of his home was a traumatic, unforgettable incident.

After he was detained by the military and taken to life in Yele, his situation became worse. The temporary stability was shattered when rebels invaded his new village as well. Ishmael was forced into the child soldier troop. As a soldier, he learned to be ferocious but also developed camaraderie with the other boys. While he was proud of learning to fire a weapon, the shocking experience of actually killing a man was a jolt that was partially blocked by the drugs the soldiers gave them.

A third major incident was his arrival to safety in the United Nations Benin Home. The UNICEF team’s rescue removed him from the terrible situation. His recovery began in earnest while in the home. Having a place of sanctuary in which to recover from the horrors he had experienced and committed was a vital part of the restorative process that enabled him to survive.

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