A former Angolan soldier, who now manages a Wetherspoons pub, has recalled what it was like to be shot repeatedly as a teen and left to die in his home country.
Over 20 years ago, Cesar Kimbirim was plucked from the street by soldiers and in a moment his 'childhood ended.'
He couldn't pack any belongings or say goodbye to his family before he was taken away from them for three years, aged just 17.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "The army got me in the street.
"That's the way it used to be. If you were big, tall, they just grabbed you and made you join. Without your father's consent, without anything.
"As a kid back then, we always used to say 'If they get me, that's it.' Because we knew it was going on. So when you get caught, you have no choice.
"If you try[to run], you might get killed. So you'd better stay there, sit down on the floor, and wait for the truck."
For years he was starved, surviving on 30 days worth of rations six months at a time.
He was shot for the first time aged 18 and twice more after that until eventually he the incident came that almost killed him.
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The first injuries were in the arm and both legs but the next attack was far more serious.
Without realising it, he had been shot through the mouth. He ditched his gun – knowing he would be killed if the enemy found him with it – and kept running. After 15 or 20 metres, he lay down in the grass and felt the blood pour down his back.
He told reporters that the sky started spinning, and his consciousness faded to black, he thought it was over and he believed his life would end in the long grass, while his blood poured into the dry Angolan earth.
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After losing consciousness, he woke up in the hospital and was treated for two or three days before going into a coma for five months.
Eventually, he met soldiers from the United Nations peacekeeping mission and found his escape from the war-torn region.
He came to the UK as a refugee and now, he manages the Brockley Barge Wetherspoons in south London, where intends to keep working hard for his family and four children, the youngest of whom is four.
He said: "When you're a kid, if you have a very good life, you probably don't feel it.
"But if you didn't have a good life – or if something happens, like when I was forced into the army – you know about it.
"I don't want to see my kids face the same issues. I want to do something better for them."
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