Awil Salah Osman is an ordinary boy in Somalia. He looks like so many other boys in the world, with ripped-up cloths and eyes eager for attention. But he is different. Awil is carrying a fully loaded Kalashnikov rifle, because he works for a military that is financed and armed by the United States of America. He is only 12 years old, but he is already responsible for his checkpoint and stops the drivers who are trying to sneak past it.
It’s a well-known fact that radical Islamist insurgents in Somalia pluck kids off soccer fields and turn them into fighters. Awil isn’t a rebel. He works for Transitional Federal Government in Somalia and is paid only $1.50 a day. But hundreds of other children come on the front lines in Africa in the age of 9. It’s normal here for children to carry a gun, as they have no other option.