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.
That is why we were so excited to catch up with some of our Project AK-47 scholars in the heart of Mindanao. We sat down with one mother to find out how her children are progressing now that they are in school.
Our scholars’ mother is well-acquainted to conflict. She spent most of her youth constantly moving from town to town, trying to outrun war, unable to attend school. Many of her family members were killed in combat, murdered, and even burned. Now she and her children are more settled, but the costs of school still would have prevented her from sending all her five children to school.
Her family works hard, including her children. They collect and chop wood to sell. Any profit they would make would go toward her children’s education, but it’s often not enough. Most days she and her five children live on less than 2 dollars a day. The children receive between 6 to 20 cents a day to buy food.
Many militant groups capitalize on the lack of education in this area, families that are poor or live in remote areas are prime targets for recruitment of child soldiers. This is where we came in. Through the Project AK-47 community, we were able to cover the cost of attendance for all five of her children and to provide them with books, bags, and uniforms…we even were able to send them to private school to ensure that they receive a higher quality education.
The mother shared with us, “If [you] were not here to help, they wouldn’t be able to continue their education anymore… I am grateful to your NGO. They have helped many already… Now the children don’t have anything to pay for anymore because everything was paid for and provided for all my children, including books, bags, and everything!”
Life still isn’t easy for her children. They have to work hard for their education. They walk for almost 40 minutes one-way to school through mountainous terrain that is often made more difficult to traverse due to heavy rains and mud. For the children, it is worth it to know they are receiving a quality education. For Project AK-47 we are happy to know that more children are being kept out of combat.