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과거 소년병의 이야기 - Masika

2007.10.18

* Grasping empowerment out of uniform 
* 01 Mar 2007


When my mother died, I just left – I was alone, moving from place to place. Some friends of mine of told me to go into the army. They said that I’d be better off wearing a uniform like them.

I thought that maybe I could just put on some smart clothes and become someone … You think - “I’ll only be smart if I wear those clothes too.” You know what I mean? Have you heard something like that? It was my decision … it was my heart that led me to join the army.

I was working as an Assistant Lieutenant. I don’t know exactly how many girls there were. There were something like four in a brigade. I was the only girl at Headquarters.

Everyone was in the same boat - they didn't think of us as a boy or a girl. Both boys and girls do whatever is needed … in the army, you cannot say that I am a girl, I can’t do this or that.

We fought in Karuba , we fought in Katoyi, Tshugi, Mushaki, Bushaku, Kalehe, Bukavu. We were fighting a lot. But all the fighting was between us – between our own people. Can you imagine ….. in front of you someone dying, on either side of you - they’re dying, behind you someone dying. And you are in the middle of this. It was awful.

Plus, when we went to Tango Fort and to get money, they said we don’t deserve any salary … that only government forces get money and we were still with General Laurent Nkunda. We were so angry. We told the commander to absorb us into the governmental army right now - We said we cannot live without our salaries or we’ll start stealing from civilians …

And I said: I want to leave the army. This is how I left it. I went down to the to CTO – the UNICEF transit center. The mentality I had when I was a soldier - it’s not really me. When I got here I was well received. They dressed me, they fed me, they taught me, they welcomed me.

Now I am learning how to sew. I have been helping with the cooking. We always help each other here with all kinds of jobs. I love them all here, for they helped me to leave the army. There is no way you can forget someone who rescued you from such a life.

There is nothing good in the army – only if you can leave alive. As for us demobilized child soldiers, even if we have our papers, we don’t know where to go. We’re hard to deal with. I think where can I go? But for now there’s nowhere to go.

The mentality I had when I was a soldier, it’s not really me. When I got here I was well received. They dressed me, they fed me, they taught me, they welcomed me.”


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