May 13th, 2011
02:18 PM ET

From child soldier to musician: Opening millions of eyes

Editor's Note: Emmanuel Jal is a former child soldier in Sudan who has defied the odds to become a musician. His "We Want Peace" campaign raises awareness of justice, equality and conflict prevention. Here he tells his story and why he joined CNN's Freedom Project.

By Emmanuel Jal, Special to CNN

I was born in the most difficult time, when my country was going to war. The first time I heard a bomb I thought the world was ending. The ground was shaking, people were screaming at gunshots, explosions flashing up in different colors.

My mother would pray with us and put her arms around us telling us it was going to be OK, that God was with us. When it was all over, our neighbors and the whole town went quiet and all you could hear were people crying and mourning. FULL POST