Title - 0 9558

Human Rights Activist to Speak at Susquehanna

Aug. 22, 2008

SELINSGROVE, (Pa.) – Ishmael Beah, human rights activist and author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, will share a riveting story of his life experiences Sept. 9 as part of Susquehanna University's 2008–09 focus on the theme of Memory.

When Beah was 11 years old, he and millions of other Sierra Leoneans were subjected to a brutal civil war. After his parents and two brothers were killed, Ishmael was recruited to fight as a child soldier. He fought for more than two years before he was removed from the army by UNICEF and placed in a rehabilitation home in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

After rehabilitation, Beah won a competition to attend a conference at the United Nations to talk about the devastating effects of war on children in his country. It was there that he met his new mother, Laura Simms, a professional storyteller who lives in New York City. Beah returned to Sierra Leone and continued speaking about his experiences to help bring international attention to the issue of child soldiering and war-affected children.

In 1998, Beah came to live with his American family in New York City. He completed high school at the United Nations International School and attended Oberlin College. Throughout his high school and undergraduate education, Beah continued his advocacy to bring attention to the plight of child soldiers and children affected by war around the world, speaking on numerous occasions on behalf of UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations Secretary General's Office for Children and Armed Conflict at the United Nations General Assembly; serving on a U.N. panel with former Secretary General Kofi Annan; and discussing the issue with dignitaries such as Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.

Beah's lecture begins at 8 p.m. in Weber Chapel Auditorium, followed by a reception and book signing in Mellon Lounge. The event is free and open to the public.

Contact: Gerald Cohen
570-372-4119

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