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    The Purpose of Conflict

    The purpose of conflict should not be to take out the person we are in conflict with, but to destroy the weapon—the disagreement—creating the conflict. Let’s make sure conflict focuses us on the true enemy. 

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    I am afraid to be a soldier

    “Whenever people talk about guns, soldiers, or the war, I feel afraid…”

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    I was afraid I would not see my parents again…

    I was afraid I would not see my parents again before I died.

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    Help Us Keep Students Out of Combat

    “Most of these kids, if they cannot go to school, they marry at 13 years old, 15 years old…either they marry or they go into the army?”

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    Culture of Conflict

    As tragic as Maria’s is, stories like these are not uncommon here. Children in this region of Mindanao are traumatized by, trained in, and raised up in a culture of conflict.

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    Keeping Children Out of Combat with Education

    Pioneering new projects in hard-to-reach places is at the heart of what we do. We are continually exploring new approaches to keeping children out of combat, and one of the most effective methods we’ve found is education.

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    Hope In the Midst of Conflict

    Myanmar (Burma) remains unsettled and continues to maintain some of the highest numbers of child soldiers on the planet. Aung San Suu Kyi, leader for the national democracy movement of Myanmar, faces many challenges in her plans for peace. In her Aug. 31 speech, Suu Kyi pledged to establish a "democratic federal union." But just a day earlier, a military spokesman dismissed the term, saying it did not comply with the 2008 constitution drafted by the military.  

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    Former Child Soldier Speaks to Students in Charlottesville

    Have you heard the story of Emmanuel Jal? We shared his incredible testimony a few months ago with our blog readers. A man of many talents, Jal is a recording artist, actor, and activist. Most importantly though, as a former child soldier in South Sudan, he has dedicated his life to changing the world through peace.

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    A Child as a Veteran.

    It is hard to name a sacrifice more noble than that made by a veteran of war.  Men and women leave their homes and loved ones and face dangerous conditions to fight for people they have never met.  It is traumatic, perilous, and uncertain, and it protects the freedoms we cherish.

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    Would A Child Ever CHOOSE To Become A Soldier?

    Knowing the dark realities of life in a rebel army, it’s hard to imagine anyone actually choosing that path. In truth however, a portion of the children, teens and young adults we work with are not sold, forcibly taken or threatened – they chose to become soldiers... Without access to education, they know the options for their future are extremely limited and to an innocent mind that can’t yet grasp the reality of war, learning to shoot guns sounds like fun. 

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    Former Child Soldier Turns Entrepreneur

    It's amazing what can come out of a life of oppression. 

    Emmanuel Jal, a young man from South Sudan, grew up in a life that many of us cannot imagine. At 7, he was forced to become a child solider to fight in the South Sudan civil war. He says that one of his most haunting memories is from when he was tempted to eat one of his fellow soldiers for survival. 

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    Urban Child Soldiers

    Recently, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on a harrowing incident in the Windy City. A witness shared the following account: 

    “I had just dropped off a customer on 81st and Saginaw. She was about two houses from the corner. I let her out and started to leave. As I got to the corner of 82nd Street, there was a young boy in the street. He went in his waistband and pulled out this large pistol and he started shooting at this car. It was a blue vehicle and there was one person in it. The driver was about to turn onto Saginaw when the young boy started shooting. [The motorist] sped up and continued his turn and kept on going down the street. The young boy didn’t hit him and didn’t seem to hit anything. There was a group of one adult and six children of various ages on the sidewalk walking down Saginaw. None of them appeared to be hit. Then the boy, after he had finished firing, ran east on 82nd Street. He got to the next street and another young man met him and took the gun. The young man who met him ran off. The young boy got on a bicycle and rode away.”

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    Meet Squirrel: A Kid or A Killer?

    Meet Squirrel. He came to Project AK-47 when he was 12 years old trying to escape a bloody history with a drug cartel. His head was slightly large and he had buck teeth, so the nickname “Squirrel” stuck. Squirrel became part of our rehab program because our PAK-47 community (you) gave us the funds. 

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    More Than 400 Child Soldiers Released From Myanmar Army in 2014

    Over the past year, the Myanmar military has freed more that 400 child soldiers according to the United Nations. This entire transition ultimately began with a pact that was signed in 2012 involving the Tatmadaw army and the UN. Since the pact was signed, a total of 595 children have been released. This pact was the first in a series of steps to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

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    Finding Reason: Child Soldiers Who Enlist “Voluntarily”

    While many young children are abducted or forced to become child soldiers, there is a group of teens and young adults that actually have chosen this life for themselves.  Pierre, a 17-year-old former child soldier, has lived through this experience twice and states very simply the reason he joined. "I joined twice, because I had nothing to do.  The first time was in 2006. The recruiters in the camp promised me food, a job, and a military career. It didn't take much to get me to go into the bush and try my luck."