They are young boys – boy soldiers. Child soldiers. They fight a fight started by politicians, historians, money. Not a fight started by themselves. Not a fight they entered voluntarily.
My country has rogue soldiers and their war is on our doorstep.
They fight the fights of drug lords. They fight the fights of vigilantes. They fight a fight for life, for dignity, for survival.
My country has boy soldiers. Child soldiers.
They dodge ricochet bullets and uninformed knives. And when they inevitably get hurt, they come to my hospital.
Sixteen year olds with torn-open abdomens. Children with heamothoraxes. Boys who should be chasing girls and worrying about exams. Instead they lie in oversized hospital gowns, tease the nurses; rip their lines out by accident because they cannot sit still.
Some still have naughty twinkles in their eyes. Some have lost it many years ago.
My country has child soldiers, but not the kind written about in the papers.