The story told in the video above is tragically not unique. In Colombia, and in war zones across the world, children as young as seven have been conscripted by armed groups and forced to serve as child soldiers.
In our work, we have heard such inspiring as well as heartbreaking stories from our partners like the one above—and now we want to share them with you. Over the next two weeks, we will use this blog to launch a video series on the issue of child soldiers in Colombia. The videos in this blog entry are only the beginning.
An international movement is growing, with the goal of exposing and ending the use of child soldiers. On February 12, 2002, the UN General Assembly enacted a measure to prevent the conscription of children under age 18. This day is now known as Red Hand Day and serves as a global opportunity for activists to organize against this human rights violation.
Today, MADRE commemorates Red Hand Day and mourns the loss of hundreds of thousands of children’s lives in conflicts across the world.
In Colombia, decades of internal conflict between government armed forces, paramilitaries and guerrilla groups have spelled disaster for countless communities. Civilians caught up in the violence have been displaced in huge numbers. According to CODHES, an NGO that tracks the movement of displaced people in Colombia, some 290,000 people were displaced in 2009 alone.
And, amidst all this turmoil, thousands of children have been recruited as soldiers, traumatized and deprived of their childhood.
One group, a MADRE sister organization in Colombia, stands out in our minds. As we mentioned in the video above, Taller de Vida works with youth at risk of recruitment as well as former child soldiers, providing much needed services and support. Through the organization’s art, theater and dance programs, young people living in Bogotá are given back their childhoods. Taller de Vida works to protect children from violence and to give children, namely former child soldiers, the chance to recuperate and build new lives.Visit the blog again next week for more videos!