Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Chapter 18

By Ishmael Beah

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Chapter 18

  • It's been five months since Ishmael has come to the rehabilitation center at Benin Home. He's doing well, but he's sad that he doesn't have any family left.
  • Visitors from the European Commission, the United Nations, UNICEF, and some NGOs decide to make a visit to the center.
  • The boys put on a talent show. Ishmael performs a monologue from Julius Caesar and a short hip hop play he wrote about a former child soldier.
  • The director of the center, Mr. Kamara, is impressed with Ishmael and asks him if he wants to speak on behalf of other former child soldiers.
  • He begins to give speeches to groups in Freetown about bringing child soldiering to an end and how people can't give up on kids who fought in the war. They can be helped and get better and lead normal lives. Just look at Ishmael.
  • Six months into his stay at the center, Ishmael's childhood friend, Mohamed arrives. Mohamed had been in Mogbwemo the day the rebels attacked and Ishmael never knew what happened to him. Guess he was recruited into the army, too. 
  • Ishmael has been there seven months when Leslie tells him that they're not able to locate any family for him to live with. Ishmael will have to go with a foster family after his stay in rehab is over.
  • Ishmael mentions that his father had a brother named Tommy who may or may not live in Freetown, But Ishmael doesn't have much hope that Leslie will be able to track him down.
  • Lo and behold, Leslie does find Ishmael's Uncle Tommy. The guy is super excited to see his nephew and promises that Ishmael can come and live with him and his family.
  • Tommy visits every week and he and Ishmael reminisce about Ishmael's father and what life was like before the war. Ishmael can't get over how kind and loving his uncle is.
  • His uncle reassures him that he hasn't told Ishmael's cousins about his wartime experiences.
  • Eventually, Tommy takes Ishmael to meet his wife and his four children—Allie, Matilda, Kona, and Sombo. The children greet him as a brother and his aunt keeps smiling and bringing him food. Life is pretty darn good.
  • When Ishmael's uncle brings him back to the center that night, he hugs him and calls him "son." It feels good to belong to a family again. A family that doesn't involve mass killing.

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