Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~ William James
After reading Bullets, Blood and Stones: the journey of a child soldier, I’m sure you feel more than just a little angry with the idea that children are forced to become soldiers and used in wars they know nothing about. I think it’s a sad thing to learn about something this horrible and feel powerless to do something about it. You are not powerless. There are many ways in which you can help. Read on:
Support an organization that helps with the restoration and reintegration of child soldiers. During my stay in Uganda I saw many wonderful things happening with these young boys and girls who had escaped from the LRA. Through the rehabilitation programs thousands of children were given medical attention, counseling, reunited with their families and reintegrated back into their communities. This was all done through the hard work of World Vision workers and volunteers whose commitment to helping these children were phenomenal. World Vision also works in countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan to help these exploited children.
You can also volunteer for an organization such as World Vision that helps families break out of the poverty cycle by providing them with the skills to become catalysts for their own change. Organizations that ‘teach a man how to fish” can destroy poverty and create self sustaining communities. When people are poor they will do desperate things, like selling their children to rebel groups, just to put much needed food into their bellies.
Write your government and tell them that you want a strong voice in the United Nations assemblies to prohibit the use of child soldiers around the world. Get your friends to add their signatures too!
Talk to your friends and family about the issue of child soldiers. Make it part of your facebook and twitter discussions.
Do some fundraising: have a bake sale, a yard sale, a car wash, a dance, a craft sale, an anything sale. Be creative! You can do it!
Promote peace at home, at school, wherever you go, because peace begins with you, doesn’t it?
There are many organizations that work to help in the rehabilitation of child soldiers.
To visit the World Vision Canada site and help provide medical attention, counselling, education and skills training, and reuniting children with their families click here.
To visit the World Vision USA site and help children of war and conflict click here. To visit Roméo Dallaire's Child Soldier Initiative and help train military, police, peacekeepers, security personnel and community groups – often the first point of contact for child soldiers- on how to prevent the use of child soldiers, click here.
In Action !
Ms. Dampier's grade 7 & 8 class at Westmount Public School in Thunder Bay, Ontario put together quite the interesting fundraiser. Sporting signs like "Child Soldiers are used as human shields, messengers and sex slaves" they silently walked the halls drawing attention to the plight of child soldiers around the world. Some even carried backpacks filled with textbooks to symbolize the heavy loads many children in the LRA were forced to carry. Two thumbs up!
The grade 7 & 8 students in Mr. Sawyer's class at Crestview Public School in Murillo, Ontario turned their Valentine's Day fundraiser into something real sweet! No one could resist the long row of baking and goodies lined up along the hallway and in less than an hour all the trays were empty and everyone's sweet tooths were satisfied. For awhile, anyways. Most awesome work everyone!
Look what you're doing!
Your fundraising dollars, along with a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the Stones Trilogy, go towards World Vision programs to help former child soldiers. These children receive medical attention, counselling, vocational training, and, if possible, are reunited with their families. Watch the table grow as more and more children are helped because you did something about it!