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.”
Many child soldiers, like Pierre, have found that they have no other option but to join the military. They have no way to make money, very few resources for education, and the benefits the military offers to provide them are enticing.
Aside from rescuing child soldiers from their lives of hardship, one of our goals at Project AK-47 is to provide these rescued children with the resources to learn, grow, and flourish. And there are multiple ways in which we strive to create permanent change during every step in a child soldier’s story. One of these changes includes offering and implementing education projects and schooling for these children. By offering education to those that haven’t had access to it, children are more likely to stay out of the armies from the beginning. Only those who are attending school have the option to escape coercion from the rebel groups which will eventually stop the cycle of violence. The more children we can rescue before they become child soldiers, the better chance they have for success in both their education and overall quality of life.
Learn more about Pierre and the lives of voluntary child soldiers HERE.