Ishmael Beah

Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980. 

As a child, Ishmael Beah’s life, along with the lives of millions of other Sierra Leoneans, was derailed by the outbreak of a civil war. When his family was attacked, Beah was recruited to fight as a child soldier at the age of 13.

After almost three years of fighting, Beah was removed from the army by UNICEF and placed in a rehabilitation home. In 1998, he came to live with his mother in New York City, where he completed high school before going on to study Political Science. Throughout his high school and undergraduate years, he did advocacy work to bring attention to the plight of child soldiers around the world. He is a member of Human Rights Watch Children’s Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations, The Council on Foreign Relations, and the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities.

Beah’s book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, was published in