The Recruit (A male adolescent, 19)
Story collected from the WASL project, a national campaign that provides a safe place for adolescents to voice their concerns and issues, needs and inspirations for the future of Yemen.
YEMEN, 11 June, 2014 - When I was seven years old, my family was involved in a dispute with another family in the village. My big brother was imprisoned and my father was shot 14 times by the other family.
So I became the breadwinner for my whole family.
"I remember trying not to do well in the interview so they wouldn’t accept me. But, they did and so I went to my first military training"
I used to go to school and then I would work on the farm. Then I would spend the whole night doing homework. I remember that I didn’t have time to play; I didn’t even have any friends. I know that I took on a big responsibility while I was still young.
When I turned 13 years old, my brother got out of prison. He suggested, “Why don’t you go and join the army?!” I remember that I didn’t want to, but I didn’t want to go against my older brother either. So I agreed and went to the interview. I remember trying not to do well in the interview so they wouldn’t accept me. But, they did and so I went to my first military training.
I was the youngest recruit in the battalion and probably the youngest among the whole camp.
Being in the camp was such a painful experience for me, and the military exercises were very harsh. I remember that many recruits escaped and two of them died because the exercises were so physically challenging. I endured the difficulty of the exercises and the hardship of being there. I didn’t get any individual penalty ever, I was such a committed recruit! I used to send the whole salary to my mother and brother, so they could spend it on what they needed.
Two years later, when I asked them to allow me to get married to the girl I love, they absolutely refused! By then, a lot of problems had happened between us and I felt that I had wasted my whole life on those who did not deserve it.
I hardly finished my secondary studies, and I insisted on finishing school despite my military responsibilities. I wish I could register in the Military Academy so that I could be promoted to the rank of Officer.