Boko Haram has kidnapped the children of northeastern Nigeria—estimates range as high as 10,000 boys alone. Over three weeks this winter, journalist Sarah Topol spoke with 25 children across Borno State about their abduction.
“You people will know your mistakes,” one boy was told. “You have come to where you will enjoy your life.” Boys are trained to fight. Girls are ‘married’ to fighters, raped and impregnated. Teenage boys often do the raping. Some girls are indoctrinated and sent out to be suicide bombers.
In that one moment of their abduction, their childhood is over. The expectation of adult life as it had been explained to them is gone. This is a stolen generation. Child soldiers are not new, but their increasing use by fundamental Islamist groups we know today is.
How does one come of age in an environment where nothing is certain and everything you've been taught about wrong and right has been flipped upside down? How do you survive such a rupture? Can you ever recover? The project explores these themes.