Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Journal 6 - Reflections - by Andy

1. One of the people in Ishmael's memoir that had a big impact on me would be "the lieutenant".  The reason I use the lieutenant would be due to him allowing Ishmael to receive the necessary medical attention when he was shot and most likely would not have survived.  The lieutenant's kindness, in this case, saved Ishmael's life.  The lieutenant could have easily dismissed Ishmael and left him to die or perhaps even have the medic or another fellow solider kill him to put him out of his misery from the gun shot wound.  Another example of how the lieutenant saved Ishmael's life would be the lieutenant selecting Ishmael to be freed from the wrath of war and begin the rehabilitation process with UNICEF.

2. Ishmael's rehabilitation was much needed after his wartime and tragic experiences.  I believe the rehabilitation helped Ishmael to a great extent, but he will always be forever robbed of his true youth due to violent conflicts he had to partake in.  I also believe he will always have that "kill or be killed" mentality ingrained in his mind even though it is not needed once he begins rehabilitation, but Ishmael obviously did not know that until more time passed during the rehabilitation process.  Obviously rehabilitation helped Ishmael or else I'm sure he would not have been selected as a candidate to speak in front of multiple people at the United Nations conference.  I personally would not have any problems having Ishmael live in the same neighborhood as myself.  My  main reason would be due to the environment.  There is no war here, nor will/should be.  Ishmael would not have to rely on his "kill or be killed" mentality and would be able to live a "normal" life.

3. The biggest lesson that Ishmael taught me to personally relate to would be the will to survive and push on.  Ishmael was placed in multiple situations in which people he loved and was close with were torn away from him by violence.  He somehow adapted to life without them and continued on.  I have not suffered losses as great as Ishmael, but I could not imagine being placed in his life at that age and those awful situations.  One of the most powerful quotes by Ishmael Beah was "Because if I get killed upon my return, (to Sierra Leone) I knew that a memory of my existence was alive somewhere in the world." (Ishmael Beah 200) which made me feel a bit sick to my stomach to think about how isolated Ishmael's situation was in Sierra Leone.  I almost feel like we take communication for granted and Ishmael had the thought process of people not remembering him, even though I'm sure many people he encountered in Sierra Leone would remember him to an extent, but not the same impact as those he met during his time in New York City for the United Nations.

4. I was honestly a bit disappointed about how Ishmael ended his book.  I wanted to know how his journey continued after he had reached "freedom".  His ending felt like he had reached a point in which he had told us enough and no longer wanted to continue.  If this is how Ishmael felt, I could completely understand the almost abrupt ending.

Ishmael is currently listed on the UNICEF website "Ishmael Beah - Advocate for Children Affected by War" and this quote listed under his image is as follows: “I know the nature of what it is to be forgotten, what it is to lose your humanity, and more importantly, what it is to recover from it and to have another life.” – Ishmael Beah

That is a very powerful quote and I wish he included that in A Long Way Gone.

Ishmael also started "The Ishmael Beah Foundation (IBF)".

"IBF was created on the belief that providing opportunities to children prevents them from re-entering a life of violence and enhances their capacities to become positive members of their communities. Opportunities strengthen young peoples’ resilience to discover, use their talents, and live meaningfully for the betterment of their communities and nations. And with this comes a genuine understanding that their humanity is as worthy and valuable as anyone else’s anywhere."

Ishmael Beah representing UNICEF and was used as a promotional picture for when he was going to discuss his journeys on May 10, 2012 at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco, California


  1. Its amazing that after everything he went threw he still has so much good in him!

  2. Agreed! Ishmael could have easily decided to live a "normal" life after everything he had survived, but instead has gone above and beyond in order to bring awareness to others. I definitely did not expect him to still be working with UNICEF, let alone have his own foundation.

  3. i understand the quote a little more now that it was explained a bit more (parts just flew over my head from just reading it in the book comically)

  4. Wow didn't even think about the Lt. He was such a bad man but what he did for Ishmael could have changed how the book ended. Ishmael could have died and we would never have been able to read his book. Really gets you thinking.

  5. Nice information, He returned back to the country where his family, friends were murdered to help those children who are now suffering, Son of a Gun!!!

  6. Its good to know that he is helping out with the UNICEF. Its good to know that even though he has been through so much he is still willing to help out and inspire people.


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