(The Nation) – Haunted by indelibly painful memories, deprived of schooling and strangers to their own families — for former child soldiers returning to normal life is often as tough as being in combat. They face daily battles that can last years as they piece their lives together. “I had nightmares long after being freed. I had flashbacks of fighting in the bush,” says Alhaji Sawaneh, a 30-year-old from Sierra Leone. Forced to fight from the age of 10 with Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front, Sawaneh recounted his experiences to a Paris conference that focused on the estimated 246 million children living in conflict zones worldwide.