Monday, February 8, 2016

Red Hand Day - February 12th

This Friday is the 14th year that the Red Hand campaign has sought to raise awareness for the plight of child soldiers worldwide.  It is estimated that there are over 250,000 children under the age of 18 who are forced to fight, kill, be sex slaves and otherwise support military initiatives around the globe. 

A very recent children's book, Child Solider: when boys and girls are used in war by Jessica Dee Humphreys & Michel Chikwanine was published as part of the CitizenKid series by Kids Can Press. 

It relates Michel Chikwanine's experiences as a five-year old abducted by rebel soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1993. In a rite of initiation he was drugged and forced to kill his best friend. His time with rebels was unrelenting terror and brutality. He came to Canada when he was 16 and now as an adult promotes awareness of the suffering of child soldiers.

This book is well done for such a difficult topic. It's done in graphic-nonfiction style that handles the violence with care (not much blood and gore depicted). The illustrations are on the cartoon-y side which suggests a younger audience than the 10 to 14 year-old target he had in mind when writing this book. Information at the back of the book fills in information about children involved in military conflicts and how readers can help.

The book Out In Front: Grace Akallo and the pursuit of justice for child soldiers by Kem Knapp Sawyer has a different format but relates very similar circumstances. Grace is taken from her school in Uganda and forced into the Lord's Resistance Army when she was 15 years-old.  She, too, is subjected to the horrors of being a child soldier and 'wife' to a lieutenant in the army. She escaped after seven months. Now she also looks to promote understanding and rehabilitation for former child soldiers and to raise awareness for the children caught up in such dire circumstances.

This book is also filled with much information about the broader context of children used as soldiers interspersed with Graces' story. End notes include sources, a bibliography, index and websites to go to for additional information. This book is for grades 7 and up.

I'm recommending both books for their content. This is a cause that is important and worth children knowing more about.

UPDATE: CBC news article highlighted the VTECS : Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers as an initiative that will enlist veteran Canadian soldiers to aid in the prevention of recruitment of children as soldiers.


Template Design | Elque 2007