The World Summit on Media for Children has brought media people and children from many countries to Johannesburg. In The Star, Angelique Serrao spoke to one participant, a former Liberian child soldier.
Angelique Serrao writes in The Star:
The tall 17-year-old boy isn't interested in the loud music playing in the background. His eyes are solemn, and unless he tells you his age, you would never know he was a teenager.
That's what years of being a child soldier does to you.
Teprize Sando is in South Africa this week for the World Summit on Media for Children, being held at the Sandton Convention Centre. He has come to tell other children about his experiences during the Liberian civil war, in which 250 000 people, including women and children, were killed.
It all began when Teprize was kidnapped when he was 12 years old.
"I was coming home from school when a group of people grabbed me and put me in their car. I still had my school uniform on," he remembers.
They took him to a military base where there were lots of other children, some as young as 8. The men put a gun in his hands almost immediately.
"I felt very bad. I just wanted to go home to my mom. My family didn't know where I was. It was a very terrible experience. They gave me guns and taught me how to shoot.
"When they first gave me a gun I said: 'What must I do with this? I know nothing about guns.' They told me that if I did not take it they would kill me. I thought my life is so precious, so I took the gun. I saw other children who refused to take the guns getting killed."
Click here to read the fullo report (reg req).