#105 Fight Against Turning Children into Soldiers

28 Jun

Barely past 8:30 am (my time on the West Coast) and I have done my good deed for the day. I had dreams last night about soldiers/war/fighting, so when I woke up this morning I planned to actually work on deed #121 which is to become a pen pal to someone in the service. However, on the website listed in the book, it stated that it was done with the project. So I flipped a few pages back and landed on #105.

I first became aware of countries forcing children to become soldiers when I saw a Fall Out Boy music video that promoted the group Invisible Children (http://www.invisiblechildren.com/home.php) which works to stop the abduction of children in Uganda. It fell to the back of my mind- as it was my senior year in college and I was prepping for my move to Las Vegas for Teach for America. It re-entered my mind this past summer/fall when my friend Erin lent me a book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. It was an interesting/sad read, which I unfortunately did not get to finish- school was starting up and I just got busy.

It was time for me to revisit the issue (3rd time is a charm!). I visited www.hrw.com which is the human rights watch website. There is SO MUCH information on the site about human rights issues all over the world. I decided to participate in the Ratify Child Soldiers Treaty. Here’s some information about child soldiers.

  1. Child soldiers (boys and girls) are fighting in at least 14 countries today (against their will). Some of these countries: Burma, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka. The children are forced into fighting, exploited for labor, and mistreated.
  2. 10 years ago the UN  developed a treaty that banned using children under the age 18 in hostilities or their forced recruitment into armed forces or groups.
  3. Today, two-thirds of the world’s countries have ratified this treaty, known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. However, 61 countries have not ratified the treaty and made clear their absolute commitment to ending the use of child soldiers.

So how exactly do I (and you reading this) get involved? Quite simple, there is a premade letter already written that is sent to 10 representatives of the countries who have yet to sign. All you do is type your name at the end of the letter, fill out some info about yourself (for the organization), and hit send. Done! You have written to 10 (ten!!!) important people asking them to request their government to sign this treaty. Each month 10 different representatives will be posted, so this is an easy deed to do each month and it takes only about 5 minutes.

I actually tried to post pictures of child soldiers, and they uploaded but I don’t know where they went….when Megs (http://msgreenbean.wordpress.com) gets home, I’ll ask her to help me- she’s an expert blogger! 🙂

There were several other ways to take action too: stop child labor in the US; free Burma’s prisoners; and taking action to stop violence against women and girls across the globe.  Today’s deed was under the chapter “Stand up for your beliefs”, so tomorrow I will complete something from another chapter….maybe one that requires me to leave my house! Until then…

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

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