Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa in 1980. When he was eleven, Ishmael’s life, along with the lives of millions of other Sierra Leoneans, was derailed by the outbreak of a brutal civil war. After his parents and two brothers were killed, Ishmael was recruited to fight as a child soldier. He was thirteen. He fought for almost three years before he was removed from the army by UNICEF and placed in a rehabilitation home in Freetown the capital of Sierra Leone.

  In 1997, he fled Freetown due to the increasing violence and found his way to New York City in 1998 where he lived with Laura Simms, his new mother. In New York City, Beah attended the United Nations International School. After high school, he enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio and graduated in 2004 with a degree in Political Science.

     Beah is the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, about his experiences in the war. The book has been published in over 40 languages and was nominated for a Quill Award in the Best Debut Author category for 2007. Time Magazine named the book as one of the Top 10 Nonfiction books of 2007, ranking at number 3. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vespertine Press and LIT and Parabola magazines. He is a UNICEF advocate for Children Affected by War, a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Advisory Committee, Advisory board member of the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Co--Founder of The Network for Young People Affected by War (NYPAW). He has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations and many panels on the effect of war on children.

Below, watch a 30 mins interview of Ishmael Beah conducted by Melinda Blinks. Ishmael Beah Talks about his life, education, The Ishmael Beah Foundation  and his work to empower youth through education in Sierra Leone.

    Video by Melinda Binks, Fall Creek Productions"Media Making a Difference"

Ishmael Beah Foundation

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