I was born in Loka, a village south west of Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. Loka is where I spent most of my life hiding in the jungle with my mother, father and relatives. I became a child soldier sometimes after the Sudan civil war-between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army and the Government of Sudan-broke out in 1983. As a child soldier, I was fortunate that my role was limited to logistics and mostly being around the garrison to preparing meals, fetching water and firewood, cleaning houses, carrying food items to the front line, and looking after stuff with other child soldiers.
I remember exactly on this day October 31, 1992 when I was put in a truck with a group of eight soldiers to carrying food to the front line. It was my first time to go to a front-line where people were not allowed to speak loudly but birds could. The journey was long; we traveled for about ten hours in impassable roads with land mines. We arrived late in the night at around 11 o’clock when everybody could be sleeping. On the contrary, we found everyone stayed up and on alert due to reports that the enemies were planning to attack the station that same night. Thank goodness the enemy did not attack that same night. After offloading the food items which took us about five hours, we were ordered to leave in the early morning hours to our regional base leave alone, whether I slept, ate, drunk and ……
This experience taught me that suffer and strife may last the night, but joy and peace come with the dawn. It is my conviction that South Sudanese children should never grow up experiencing the violence and strife that have defined part of my life. South Sudan, with the help of the region and the international community should now use the dawn of peace to create an enabling atmosphere to provide opportunities for children to have diverse choices in the future of their life; by building decent schools, homes, and communities that are peaceful and healthy in order to confront the many challenges of the twenty first century.

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