[1/4] I was born in the western part of Sudan, in the Darfur region. This region hasn't witnessed peace in the past 30 to 35 years. I was born in conflict, raised in conflict, and even went to school in conflict. Conflict has been the biggest part of my life. It has shaped my life in everything that I do, whether it is human rights activism or music. I became a child soldier around the age of 17 when I was in high school. It was in 1990s when the Sudanese army was fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The Sudanese army was almost defeated. Having lost the entire South Sudan to the SPLA, they called the public to join and support the army. After realizing this wasn’t really working, they came up with the idea of national service. When you were done with high school, you had to serve in the army before you were allowed to join the university. You would undergo 3 months of military training before getting deployed to the battlefield for 1 year. After that period, you would be awarded a certificate as proof that you served. For us, we joined with no option because we wanted to continue with our education. We also hoped that the war would end while we were undergoing training. Our training was only for 45 days, and the war was still on. We were deployed to protect the oil field in a region called Unity State in South Sudan. At that time, it was just one country. We didn’t even have prior war experience, so this was our first, let alone the fact that the environment was also new to us. I lost colleagues and friends, not just to war but also to diseases and the lack of access to food and clean drinking water. The enemy would attack, and we would find ourselves just running. In the process, some of my colleagues would lose their way back to the base and walk right into enemy territory, while others were left in the middle of nowhere with no food or water. They starved to death. That was over 20 years ago, but I still remember everything so vividly, and I get nightmares about those eventsfrom time to time.