I was born in a hospital; he was born in a cottage. When I was two, I got mad at my mum because she wouldn’t buy me the candy I kept pointing at; when he was two, he watched his older sister die of starvation and worried he’d soon meet the same fate. When I was eight, my parents bought me my first camera, to learn how to shoot things as I saw them; when he was eight, he was given his first rifle and forced to shoot his mum in the temple… they drenched his younger siblings in gasoline and held a lighter close to them as a form of ‘motivation’. When I was fourteen, my family and friends threw me the biggest surprise birthday party; when he was fourteen, he came back to his village to find that they had raped his eight year old sister to death. When I was fifteen, I was finally allowed to watch my first action movie; when he was fifteen, he watched them strap a grenade in a soldier’s mouth and pull the pin out. When I was twenty, my worries revolved around college drama and exams; when he was twenty he worried about starvation, malaria and survival.
When I was forty I was diagnosed with cancer… I was treated by him. He made my struggle his own and helped gather the charity required to cover the operation. I spent many sleepless nights in agony and pain; he stayed by my side through them all, as my doctor and my friend. He was one of the very few to survive in his world, I was one of the very few to die in mine.
This world is unpredictable, your life can turn upside down in a matter of hours; when it does all you’ll have left is the good you’ve left behind. On your death bed, you will not think about your unfinished work in the office nor will you remember the fancy dinners and materialistic possessions. Truth is, it is very hard to imagine ‘his’ life because we lead a life so far from it. However, we cannot continue to live in denial that thousands of children suffer from these series of events on a daily basis. Children in Africa are raped, shot, burnt alive and forced to kill their own families with clubs or guns while we scroll through our Instagram feed. They are forced to struggle for survival against starvation, thirst and murder as the rest of the world turns a blind eye… Ignorance is not bliss.