Photo by J. Nygren, courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Growing up in Sierra Leone during its decade-long civil war, Ishmael Beah became orphaned when a rebel group took his parents away. He joined the Sierra Leone Army as a child soldier and, after two years of bloody warfare, was rescued by United Nations Children’s Fund field-workers. After immigrating to the United States, he earned a B.A. in political science from Oberlin College and published his 2007 memoir, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee.