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2008 (Narrative date)

Anywar was abducted in 1988 at age 14 to serve as a child soldier in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Led by Joseph Kony, the LRA was fighting to overthrow Uganda’s secular government. The war in northern Uganda lasted from 1986 until 2006, during which time more than 35,000 boys and girls were enslaved by the LRA. In 1999, Ricky and his friends started Friends of Orphans (FRO), an organization which works to contribute to the empowerment, rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers, abuductees, child mothers, orphans, and to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

I’m Anywar Ricky Richard, the founder of Friends of Orphans, based in northern Uganda in Pader District. We work with former child soldiers. I know a lot about former child soldiers because I was one time I was child soldier. I was abducted when I was at the age of fourteen years and forced to fight adult’s wars. We work to rehabilitate former child soldiers, reintegrate them, and empower them so that they gain their life back. Our experience with them, and my personal experience as a former child soldier, is that a child soldier doesn't destroy only the family or the person, but they destroy the whole community.

A former child soldier, as I said, doesn't only destroy the life of the child, but they destroy the life of the family and the life of the community, in that to regain back their normal life, to be useful people, useful citizen, is very difficult. Because they go through a lot of trauma in the bush, and the child soldiers, they are made to fight adult’s wars. They are made to do things not of their own will. These destroy first of all their emotional feelings about human being. They feel so bad about human being; they feel human being destroyed their life because they did not gain the normal childhood life any other children can experience.

I was abducted with my elder brother, and other three children from this same village where we lived. Then we moved in the bush, and we were tied up with our hands behind us, and one rope was connected to another person, so we were in chain and tied up with our hands behind. We moved for about three days with no food, no water, until the fourth day, that's when they gave us some food and some water we took.

From there we kept moving, and I saw horrible things in the bush. First, I'd never seen this kind of beating which these people could do. Whenever they get you, they'd beat you, they'd kill. I'd never seen that before, so it was horrible for me to see people being killed, people being beaten, especially the women and children. It was really so, so bad for me. I didn't like it, and I saw it as something I never wanted to do, and I never wanted to be in there, but unfortunately, we were guarded twenty-four hours by the commanders. We could not escape. There was no way we could escape. So we remained in there. I always tried my best, but if I could get any chance, I would escape. But you couldn't get any chance to escape.

In the night, we undressed and tied up together so that you have no chance of escaping because they believe that in the night, maybe somehow somewhere you could get a way of escaping. They could send us scaring messages every day that if you escape they would kill you in the most horrible way. And they used to do that. We used to see that some of our friends would try, some of the children try to escape, and they're brought back when they're caught and they kill them.

At one point, I remember they brought some man who had escaped. He escaped like today, then the following day we got him and he was brought. I saw about fifty people beating him in all parts. And … I don't remember what happened next, but somehow, somewhere, someone told them, one of the commanders said, “Please stop, stop,” because he was lying. Then he woke up. He got up. And when he got up, the jaw was broken. One of the finger was also broken and was looking weak. They call us together, then they told us, “Uh huh, today you've seen” – that's after only, I think, two days of – yeah, two days when I was abducted, then that happened. And they brought up this man. They didn't tie him; they made him to sit down. Then they call out us around and they told us, “Okay, you people, you want to escape. I know some of you are planning to escape, and today we are going to show you if you escape what will happen to you.”

They brought some boy called Patrick with the panga [large knife] to cut him up. So one of the commander went in front when he was seated down like this, then pointed a gun at him, [and said] that “Look at my eyes straight, and if you dare to run, I will be the one to shoot you. I'm going to kill you.” He mentioned his name, then he hollered at Patrick to cut off his neck. So Patrick was fearing, but there was no way. He didn't show, though, that he was fearing, but from the action I saw that he was fearing because when he cut off once, the panga went off.

Then there's another person now, one of the commander came and cut him off, then they told us that, “Uh huh, have you seen what happened? If you escape, we are going to kill you in that way.” What pained me most is that the boy didn't cry. I never heard him crying till he died. And the most horrible thing about it is that the sister was there seeing, and it was so bad; it was so painful.

To me, what I saw is when – because when they cut off the neck from behind, he fell down on his back, then they started cutting the neck, the face, and everywhere. So I was close to my brother. Now they told us, all of us, to cut him, so people started cutting, the recruits. You cut him until they see that you now, you are not fearing to kill, then they tell you that, okay, leave, pass the panga to the next person; he cuts like this.

So I was behind my brother, my brother came and cut him, and he was completely chopped up. So one of the commanders said “Stop. The rest, go.” Then unfortunately the next person who followed me behind, they told him “No, no, no. Now what you do, you move, you walk on him.” So people walked on him so that they would get the courage of killing, the courage of doing atrocities. And when we all passed, then they stop us again.

They said, “Uh huh, do you know what happened? We didn't kill this man; it's you people who have killed him. So the spirit of this man will keep coming around whenever you escape, will keep guiding you back until you come back to us because you killed him. That's you. He escaped…so now you have also escaped, so you have done the mistake, and you should be killed as well.” So that's what they told us about him. We went and slept.

[I was abducted] on Friday, the third [of] May, around 3:00 p.m. We heard a gunshot. We were staying at home, in a nearby market, which is about one and a half kilometers away from here. There was some rebel groups who had come to raid the market. I think there were two groups who didn't know themselves that they were around our village.

So one group came first and went and shot in the market; they raided the market. So when we heard that, we were curious, we wanted to find out what happened. Did they kill people? What did they do? So we moved from home with my elder brother and sat just about fifty meters away from home along the road side. Then some friends of ours from the village, other children, also came and joined us.

We were waiting for any possibility of someone had escaped and could come and tell us the story. Then I think it frustrated another group when they heard a gunshot in the market, so they decided to raid our village and a man came riding a bicycle. He was putting on civilian clothing, and he had a gun boot for the army. So we were contemplating who is this, and he came and stopped and started conversing with us. He was very friendly.

He was just trying to buy time so that other people with guns could come in in a bigger group. So the next thing I saw was a man who was dreaded [gestures to indicate hair], bare chest, and putting on army uniform with gun boots. He came – we were sitting down. He came and started kicking us, and I got scared and I knew that, oh, today we are being abducted.

So another person came in as well, and they started coming in and all that. So our parents were fifty meters at home. I could see them peeping, looking at what was taking place, what they were doing at us. So as we were abducted, they did not run. I think to them they said, no, since Ricky and the brother has been abducted, there's no way now. We cannot run.

So they stayed at home here. They were behind, right at this house. So this one [who] was dreaded came in, and had was beating people hard and doing all these kind of things. Then at one point they call us in, we came, and what I saw is they were putting them, all of them, my mom, my dad, my sisters, my brothers, and some three people from around the village; they got them from the eastern side. They came with them.

And they put them in that grass thatch house, and they locked the door, and they set it ablaze. Then we were sit – we sat there to watch, and we heard what was happening. They were crying in the house for help and hollered. It was horrible. It was the toughest moment I think I've ever seen in my life. They made us to sit and wait until the noise were not coming. I think they were all dead now.

So that is what happened during my abduction. As I told you before, I was abducted in front of my powerless family who could not defend us from abduction. And as a result, again, they were burned down in the house. So after the house fell down – it was completely burned down – they came and tied us up together with our hands behind, then they pass the rope from our waist to the next person. They did not strip us by then.

So we went to the next school where I was going to school by then. We got a bigger group, and before that we followed that main road. As we were following the main road in a single line, one of the rebels came and lied down in front of us and was aiming at us to shoot us. I got very, very scared, and we had nowhere to go. From behind they were beating us, in front this man, you can step on him, he will kill you definitely.

Just a few minutes, all the things happened very quick. From here when they killed my parents, that's when we were taken. The harassment started there, and they were harassing us. When we went, we got a more bigger group, there under a tree in the school. Then that group had also captured – they had abducted a lot of people. So they screen us from there. The younger ones, which we were among them, we were only seven who are left. The rest were killed there. Some from the near village here. One of my uncle was killed there as well again. Then they burned down the school. I never seen this kind of thing. I'd never seen a big fire like that. It was a very big -- you know that whole house being on fire.

There were very many people, but I couldn't count the number really because the whole thing is scary. But I saw…could be around twenty people who were there, and all of them were killed. We remain only seven, then they took us. They burned down the school, then they cut down all the bicycles. There were about, like, ten bicycles. They used pangas to cut them down. They removed the tubes that went with it.

And it was a little bit late now, around six in the evening. They made us to move in one line. We went, and around nine we got another bigger group and they were only waiting for us, this group who had come to raid our village. So when we arrived they all went. But as we were approaching there were some young girls who were questioning us, I think talking to the commanders, and we could hear it.

“Captain, why have you brought these children with distend stomachs here? Why didn't you kill them from there?” And I was scared. I was afraid. We went, and somewhere they told us to enter the bush. We entered into the bush, and they told us that this is where you're going to sleep. So they came and removed our shirts; they removed our shorts. We remained naked. And six people came, and surrounded us with the guns and told us that if you dare escape, we will shoot you.

Many times what they do is indoctrination. They indoctrinate you to be reintegrated into their system through teaching. And that is done by the commanders, but there are specialized people who can do that.

Through talking, one thing they could tell us is that if you dare to escape, then you will find on the way a very big snake. This snake will not bite you, but will keep teasing you, coming to you, and directing you until it takes you back to them, and they will capture you and kill you. Or else if you dare escape, you will meet a very big mountain, and you'll keep moving along the mountain until they will get you. You keep rotating that mountain. Then another thing is that you will get a very big flooded river as you escape. And you will see they are trying to cross the river, and we will get you. So we'll kill you. And they tell us that when you hear gun shots when we attack, sides and the other side, the sides are for the killers. If you move on this side, they will kill you. If you move on the other side, they will kill you. If you remain back, they will still kill you. But if you go in front, nothing will happen. Even the bullets shot cannot get you – you'll not be shot by the bullet. So these are some of the stories they could tell us.

Then on the action side, that is the theory of it. The action side is that when they bring people, when they want to punish people, it’s the children to do that. When they're beating people, they want to beat someone, they order you, the children, to beat them up. And when they're killing, it's the children to do that. The commander doesn't kill – it's the children to kill. And when you kill, that's when they tell you, “Uh huh, you've killed, you see, so you have nowhere to go.”

And especially when they are abducting you, they make you to kill your brothers or your parents, whatever they see you with, or the relative, or the family of village members. So they said, “Oh Ricky, you see, you are not going to escape because you've killed your own family members, you've killed your village members, and now you have nowhere to go. They will hate you. So you have to remain with us here.” So that's what how they indoctrinate the children in their system.

And I think that's why the trauma comes most to the children. Because if the children were to do it, the commanders don't do it, so it's the children. And they get the trauma a lot because of killing, beating, doing their … fighting. They're the one taken to the battlefield, and in many cases, they are used as [a] seal for the bullet not to touch them because they are far away, and they leave the children to fight.

[Joseph] Kony himself, when you meet him, you can’t believe that is the one doing all this what he’s doing. He looks polite. He likes telling stories a lot. He tells you how he lives, where he lived, and he lived in – he told us he lived in Lira Palwo [Uganda], and all this kind of stories. He liked children around him all the time.

But there comes a time when he's possessed with the spirits. He could tell the commanders, that, “Okay, well, now civilians are doing this to us, and we are not going to spare them. So go and kill any civilian you have seen.” So after thirty minutes he could say, “No, no, no, no, I don't want any killing. Nobody should get killed.” But when the commanders had already left and we had no communication system, so you keep killing until you go back to him. So there was that gap of communication which created a lot of problems and atrocities.

We are right now in northern Uganda where the war has been going on for the last twenty-two years. Two million people have been forced to leave their homes and live in refugees camp. An estimated number of 500,000 people have been killed, and 25,000 children have been abducted and to go and work as child soldiers doing a lot of atrocities in the same community they have been home.

When a child is abducted from his village to go into the bush, basically the boys are used as fighters, and the girls are turn out to be wives to the commander. But at one point all of them are used as carriers for the loads, for the sick, for the wounded, and as cook for the commanders.

That's what they use. And at one point depend, when the longer you stay, the more you are faced with the war directly where they take you to fight on regular basis. But at first when you have just been abducted, you are used to carry loads, carry sick people, carry the wounded people, and cook food, prepare food for the commanders. As they train you, you keep going on through training and all doing all the atrocities and the indoctrination until just a time when they know that you have the courage now, that's when you go directly to fighting.

And there was one thing I wanted to mention now is that the war in northern Uganda, which has taken twenty-two years, is the most unique war around the world. This war has never been fought in any part of the world. Why am I saying this? When we look around the world like what happened in Rwanda, it's different community fighting different communities. What happened in Liberia, it’s different communities fighting different communities.

But in northern Uganda it's the same community fighting themselves. That makes the war so unique. How do they fight themselves is hard to explain. When assuming they abduct a child from this family, if the child was made to kill the parents, kill the brothers, kill the sisters. So if any of them is killed, assuming you killing your sister, then the rest of the family members will turn against you now. At war this is our enemy, he killed my daughter, he killed my sister, he killed my brother. So it's the same community. You will have problems at personal, family, and community level. So it has made a lot of conflicts among the community.

When the boys and girls are abducted, the girls are used as sex slaves by the commanders, and the boys are used to commit atrocities in the community.

What I realized, I noticed from the bush, is that when someone begin have the urge of killing all the time – “Oh I need to kill, I need to kill” – he talks about killing all the times, and he's involved, you see, on a daily basis, is killing, is doing a lot of atrocities in the community…I noticed that that person will not last long. Either he's going to die in the next two, three days, or one week. It has happened to a lot of kids and a lot of commanders I saw in the bush.

When you are forced to kill someone, when someone tells you, “Oh, if you don't kill him, I will kill you,” what happened first of all you look around and look at your security, that's what happened. Then you decide – they all happen so quick. You decide, should I do this or I don't? Is there a way I can escape it? Can I escape doing this? Then you look around, if you see when you don't have any way to escape, then you have to do it, because if not you will die. And you also value your life. Do I want to die now, or I don't want to die now. So that's what's happening to your head. That's what you think about.

What I did when I was in the bush is that I made sure that I couldn't kill any person [that] I could see directly that I'm killing someone. I could not do that; I could dodge it. When we were told – when they give us someone to kill, like “Hey, kill this person,” then I could move as if I'm doing it, but I make the children – I could be like at the back of it, I never wanted to do that myself.

And that's what helped me. It's a theory, I think, or a thinking I developed when I was in the bush. When I realized that those who could have the heart of killing all the time, they die soon, then I thought to myself, I prayed to God, I said, “God, I think you shouldn't make me kill anybody when I'm seeing. And with that I will remain, I will leave, I will escape, I will go back home, and I will do all this.”

So I made sure that I didn't kill anybody. I didn’t participate on the beating, which is to death, to killing. I participated in beating people as a punishment, which they give me to beat and do that kind of things. But for the killing, no. I made sure that I didn't rape any girl, and I made sure that I didn't raid anything off anybody. That way I thought it would help me out, and that's why I managed to come out without any gunshot, not even a scratch, and I fought a lot of battles. I don't know how I managed to come out of this if I can imagine now. I went through sprayed bullets and through gun ship, which could send dense smoke so it could be seen for many miles away bombing us, and I managed to escape these. I feel it's a miracle, I can believe that.

What happened is I come from a Christian background, and I was going to a Christian school, so when I went to the bush, before, I was like any other child. I didn't have that heart of helping the people. It has never crossed my mind. I was just a child and that's all. But my experience in the bush started cultivating any thought for children in my life. I started seeing things different, and whenever I could see people suffering I could say, “Oh God, I think I wish I could help.”  And those I help, and those who I could, I think I helped them. I thought, “No, these people are not doing the right thing.” That's how it started. I felt that, no, we need to do something about this. I need to do something about it.

What happened to me in the bush, like carrying a gun, I can't do it now. And what I went through in the bush is difficult. Life there is like carrying an egg. You know when you carry an egg in your thumb [gestures to hand], anytime you just stand like this, and it's off and you lose it and you never gain it. That's how life is in the bush.

I went through a lot of fighting. I fought many battles, a thousand battles, I think, in the bush. And I went through sprayed bullets. I went through a lot of fighting. I went through gun ship where it could pass through dense smoke which can be seen from far away. We were shot at with gun ship and all that kind of things.

I didn't get hurt. My belief is if I don't do anything on any human being, then nobody could do anything on me as well. That's why I came out without any bullet wound, without a scratch.

I used to believe in that a lot. I couldn't think of raping, killing, and whatever they do I could see as if they're not doing the right thing, and I could caution even other failed children.

Like one time I sat a child down and I told him, “Please, you know what? These people have been killing, you see.” I gave them example, this one was doing this and this, was doing a lot of killing and is no more, and this and that kind of things. So some…the boy was kind of understanding, but I think at times [shakes his head no].

Then we had some conversation with other children, like when I ask him that as I wanted to escape. I knew that at one point I need to leave if I get the chance, so I could not put on their hat. You know when you keep on putting on a hat for a long time, it makes a mark here [gestures around top of head]. So when you come back home they will know that, oh, this is a soldier. So I never wanted to do that, to make any mark. Then carrying a gun here [gestures over shoulder], if you carry for a long time will make a mark here. I avoided that.

Then putting on gun boots. When you keep on putting it every day, it makes a mark around the leg [gestures to leg], so I never used to do that because I knew when I escape, and someone sees that will know that, oh, this has been a soldier, and it would bring problems to me. And that's what I could tell, even these other children, that “Please, avoid doing that because you know, at one point, we know we will get a chance of escaping.”

And some could tell me, “Oh, Ricky, no, for me I don't want to escape. That's why I've started putting on the things, you know, because I killed my parents and I'm not going anywhere, I don't have where to go. Oh, they made me to kill one of the village members, so I'm not escaping. I'm staying here now. This is my home.”

That's what they could tell me. Some would tell me, “Yes, Ricky, I think I understand, and at one point I know we will do it if God willing.”

Then when I was departing with my good friend, he was transferred to the next group. We shook each other's hand. Then he told in parables that whoever will go back to the baby soul first, go and greet them. Which he meant that if you go home first, go and greet them. Or if I go first, I will tell them you are still alive. So that's the kind of experience they know.

My brother came back first from the bush. Then when he escaped, I think he was too traumatized. First he couldn't cope up with the experience he got. In that one time he was made to carry a wounded soldier on his back when he was still fresh bleeding, and he died on his back. Then I think seeing our parents being burned down alive and the kind of atrocities he went through, he was forced to kill a lot of people. Then I think he couldn't stay with that, and he committed suicide when he came back. That's the report I got from the village. I didn't see him, though; I saw him last when we were still in the bush.

I dedicate my work to my parents who died because of me. They had all the opportunities to run away and leave me with the rebels, then they said no. I think in their mind I was so special to them....

I think what happened is that I started realizing myself and my role when I was abducted, when I saw a lot of atrocities being done. At one point I never accepted it, that that's the right thing to do. And at one point I never accepted it – this is where I'm supposed to be, this is where I belong, and this is the right thing to do. I knew it clearly that all of what they were doing was wrong, but I didn't have the power by then to stop them.

But at one point, as I got integrated into the system, I got a lot of problems with my thinking, my different thinking about what they're doing. They felt I was disrespectful, and all the time I was in jail, they removed my shirt, they don't give me the gun. I sleep under the cold without any blanket, without anything to cover me. At one point, my friend tipped me that they wanted to kill me, so when I got a chance of getting a gun, I did not release that gun at all.

I saved many people from the bush because I could move in front while I was in abduction, and whenever I see you I could tip you, “Hey, please come here, run away. I have this group, big group, coming. When they see you, they will kill you.”

Then my brother also at one point brought a wrong report, and he was supposed to be killed. So they brought him. There were a few – we were a few group with one of the commander, who was insisting that he was supposed to be killed. So I crossed a line [gestures as if to draw a line in the sand], I said, “My brother, come this way. [and then, to commander:] If you want to kill him, cross here.” I opened the ship. And I think they saw from my expression that I was annoyed, and I was ready to kill. Then they left him.

Then I told you a story of how I saved this boy whom I was supposed to beat or kill because he threw away the bag. And all that. And what I could see could create a new faculty for children in my life. I keep thinking about these children; I keep thinking about the suffering, how best if I could help.

So when I came back, I got the chance that I went out of the war zone completed; I was in Central. And I got the chance of going back to school. When I finished, I got a job, but I wasn't satisfied. In my mind something was telling me, no, go and help these children. They need your help. So I have to move from the Central and came and live in the Internally Displaced Persons camp, and started helping the children.

When I finished my college school I was lucky. I got a job, a good job, with the government of Uganda with Minister of Education and Sports in Kampala in Central Uganda where it is very peaceful. And I would get good money, but I left the job. I felt I wasn't satisfied with the job. I felt I need to go back and help my people. And I came back to live in the refugees camp, helping children, former abductees who could come back from the bush, and give them support so that they become rehabilitated; they become another child altogether.

Like any other person, most children or most people when they finish school and they get good job, before even getting good job, most people want to move to the city where they feel their soft life. They want to lead that kind of luxurious life.

But to me, I'm not satisfied with that. My satisfaction is not about the best – about to be known of the best car I'm driving, or about the riches or physical riches, how many land titles are in my name, no. I feel more satisfied when I serve people. As the saying goes, if someone see a child dying along the road and kneel down to help that child, he stands more taller than someone who stands and watch that child dying. So I go by that principle.

What drives me most is seeing former child soldiers getting rehabilitated. I feel very happy; I feel very satisfied. And many times when I see the hopeless children who have come back from the bush, they were about to die, and the abduction – they came back, I rehabilitated them. They are very happy people now. I feel more happy about that. And whenever I see them succeed in life I feel very, very much satisfied. I feel so happy.

As I always put it that as a child born out of trouble, the trouble came as a result of a human being doing a lot of atrocities in me when I was young. They abducted me; they forced me to do a lot of things I never wanted to do. They made me pass through sprayed bullets, through bombs from the gun ship, which could produce dense smoke which could be seen from many miles away. They made me to sleep under the cold. They made me to stand guard them while they're raping young girls. They made me to see people being killed, which I never wanted to do that.

But that – that does not put me off because it's the same human being that helped me when I came out from abduction. Though I was living in this village as a slave as well, I could dig in return for food. If I don't dig, nobody give me food. But still that inspire me because if they didn't give me food, I would have died anyway, you see. If my second mom didn't help me…they're all human beings. I wouldn't be there. So I felt that, yeah, I think human beings are good people, and I need to help them; I need to be with them. So it gives me more love for human being when I think positively, you see. And I always keep thinking positively about human beings. Despite everything I saw. I said maybe those are the wrong elements, but human being needs to be helped, you see. And that's what I believe in. I still believe in human being. They're very important to me. I love them and I feel… It's that's what I believe in – I'll keep helping human beings.

The war in northern Uganda has been going on for the last twenty-two years, and the war is being fought by two parties: the government first, and the Lord's Resistance Army. The Lord's Resistance Army want to overtake the government of Uganda. They have mistrust in the government. The government also doesn't want to leave, so they went into war. And it kept on and on until twenty-two years from now it has been going on.

The government of Uganda. . . the Lord's Resistance Army started reinforcing its troop by abducting children from the villages to go and fight the war. And the government, on its part, decided to put people in the IDP camps so that they're protected from abduction. That made the rebel to do a lot of atrocities at home in the villages like they burned them down, and they set land mines in all the strategic places they think people could come back and… like a path, water places, under the trees, the fruits, in the churches, schools, and all that. If people come back, they would get blown up by these land mines.

As the two parties fight, the government and the Lord's Resistance Army, it’s the civilian who are caught up in the crossfire, you see, between the two warring parties. So as the saying goes, that if two elephant fights, it is the grass who would suffer the most. So I think it's the civilian who has suffered the most in this war.

I think my background has inspired me a lot to do what I'm doing.  And I dedicate all the work I'm doing to my family, who are not there now and cannot see what I'm doing physically.

But I believe that somewhere, wherever they are, they are seeing what I'm doing, and they're happy about what I'm doing. That's what I presume. And I believe that this is the only way I can pay them back. I know I owe them a lot. They died because of me, and if I became a wasted human being, in a sense that I couldn't help anybody, then I think there was no meaning for them to die because of me.

They died. They thought I was so important to them. And maybe in their mind they thought that I would be very important to the community. That's how I feel that my background has really motivated me and has inspired me to do what I'm doing right now. And I feel happy about what I'm doing. I get a lot of satisfaction in what I'm doing.

The sad part is that they miss it physically. They will never see it again. But still I believe that wherever they are they would recommend that I'm doing the right job, and they wouldn't be ashamed of me. I think they would walk with their head up, very happy for what I'm doing.

Out of the horrible things which I've gone through, I've created a very beautiful thing for the community. And I will live with that. Many times I tell people that, when I die, I shouldn't be recognized as a hero, but I should be recognized as a servant who has dedicated himself for them.       I know in the process of serving my community I went through a lot of things as well, as I told you. At one point I headed into an ambush, and I was shot at in the waist, but that has not derailed me from what I'm doing.

I never thought in my mind that, “Oh, Ricky, your life is at risk because you're working refugees camp, you're in the battlefield, and maybe one time you will die.” I never thought of that, though. Instead, I feel that my personal life is not important in the cause.

But what is important is seeing that people, especially the child soldiers come out of what they have gone through, their help. Because human beings have to die anyway, but the cause have to continue, and that's what I believe in. And that's what drives me.

Narrative as delivered to Free the Slaves in English.