Former child soldier struggle with life in Kakuma – Interview
July 22, 2018 (Nyamilepedia) — In an exclusive interview with the Nyamilepedia, Charles Maker John, an unaccompanied 17 year-old minor, who narrowly escaped violence from South Sudan and thought asylum in Kakuma Refugee Camp, shares the hardship he faces as he integrate into civilian life in Kakuma.
Following a long journey that he said he never undergone before, Charles finally made it to safe haven in the neighboring Kenya where thousands, seeking safety like him, are stationed under the UNHCR.
Maker was one of the child soldiers, who were fighting alongside the Arrow-Boys, a little-known tribal armed group previously active in the defunct Central and Western Equatoria states.
He told the Nyamilepedia that he was not forcefully conscripted by the armed faction but joined them voluntarily out of fear of being killed by the government forces which he said were on the offensive targeting civilians on ethnic basis in the area.
He was the firstborn child out of four being separated from the family in his teenage.
Maker hardly knows where his family members are, he left his resident, Terekeka in 2014 arriving with other minors in Kakuma on 22/07/2017, a journey that left them dehydrated due to a negative fluid balance.
According to Maker, they were well received by the UNHCR Field Officers at the Lutheran World Federation Reception Center on their arrival.
Maker, who has never had a chance to learn in South Sudan, finds a ray of hope in Kakuma Refugee Camp and determined to focus on his education; He has been attending preschool at Hope Primary, and excelled well in mathematics.
“I am learning in preschool with children but I am not ashamed, sometimes they make fun of me” he said adding that “I’m suffering but I am determined to overcome all these challenges” he told the Nyamilepedia in Arabic.
In a house made of mud bricks, Maker has engaged in vegetable farming that are sold at 50 shillings [about $50 cent US Dollar] in the local market as a means to earn an income.
South Sudan children are still at risk of joining armed groups despite several assurances by the parties to prevent child soldiers. A UNICEF report has projected that over 19,000 children have been recruited as solders by South Sudan armed forces since 2013.