As a child in Sierra Leone, Ishmael Beah was forced to become a soldier in the country’s civil war. His experiences are documented in his book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.
The United Nations estimates that there are 300,000 children serving as soldiers in 30 countries around the world. Beah, who graduated from Oberlin College in 2004, has established a nonprofit organization to help children who have been forced to become soldiers and to help them reintegrate into civilian society.
A chapter of the Ishmael Beah Foundation has been established on the Oberlin campus. It is the first chapter of the foundation on a college campus, but more are planned. Beah states, “At Oberlin I gained the knowledge and curiosity about the world, so it pleases me deeply to start a chapter there so as to add to the legacy that brought me to Oberlin, inspired me, and prepared me to know that each contribution to shape the world is absolutely valuable.”