I went to see a play on Friday night about child soldiers. Written by Suzanne Lebeau, this play tells the story of a young girl and boy fleeing the rebels who had captured them and forced them into slavery. I haven’t seen a lot of plays (I’m not going to count the 10+ musicals I’ve seen), so I will definitely remember this one. It was haunting and raw and totally pulled me into the characters’ world. You could tell that the audience really had a visceral reaction to it.
What I love and admire about actors is their ability to imagine themselves into a role. It was so amazing to hear the actors talk about how they prepared for their roles and that they believed that the play is largely about hope. I always love witnessing how art and creativity and merge the personal and the political, and drive home the fact that sharing stories can make the world a better place. Even such a terrible yet real story.
Child slavery is an issue I’ve long heard of and sometimes go back to whenever it comes up in the news or conversation. So I feel bad that it’s not always an issue I talk or think about. I think that’s why I had felt so compelled to give my feelings an outlet: because I hadn’t had a chance to do so in a while.
But the only thing I can do now is write about the experience that I had, not the experience of the actors on stage – and not the experience of the guest speaker who was forced into become a child soldier at age 5. Michel Chikwanine spoke about his life before, during, and after his capture and escape. He said that it still feel so raw to him. I can’t even begin to imagine what he has been through. He is one of two people I’ve met who have been forced into slavery during war. Both people have been among the most warm and compassionate beings I have ever met.
So where does that leave me, in the midst of all this chaos? Where does someone who has talked to victims of slavery go to help make sure that their stories are not forgotten? Is writing a blog post enough? I feel bad in admitting this, but I don’t feel as compelled to do more research into the topic or work for an organization that advocated for such people. Does that make me a bad person? Should I be doing more?
A small voice in the back of my head says no. And I guess that’s somehow me telling myself that small acts like this can send ripples of goodness around the world. And I suppose I do believe that in theory. It’s tough to believe that in practice, since I’m looking into what else I could do.
So let’s do one more thing to take this further. I’m going to ask whoever is reading this to please perform a small act in effecting positive change. You can share this story with someone else, or do research into child slavery or another issue. You can act kinder to those around you. You can do something good for yourself in order to reach your highest potential. You can do something different on your own, or join others in a movement. You can be a voice, or be an echo. It’s up to you. But please don’t let this opportunity pass.