Sunday, February 24, 2013

Give a Little to End the Use of Child Soldiers

Photo courtesy of
Romeo Dallaire is one of the most courageous humanitarians of his time, and a personal hero of mine. Aside from the fact that this awesome, inspiring man is a Canadian, he is perhaps best known for being the Force Commander for UNAMIR, where he bore witness to the Rwandan genocide. Now as a retired lieutenant-general and Canadian Senator he is an outspoken advocate for human rights, mental health and war-affected children.

Wanting to transform his hellish experiences into a constructive contribution, he founded the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, and made it his life's mission to end the use of child soldiers worldwide. He documented his experiences and proposed solutions in two best-selling books: Shake Hands with the Devil and They Fight like Soldiers, Die like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers.

Just imagine more than 250,000 children (estimated 30-40% girls) recruited - often forced - to be soldiers. Many are stolen from their families, maimed, raped, drugged, used as sex slaves or otherwise abused and as child soldiers, are often forced to commit atrocities against friends, families and neighbours. Dallaire says children are used because they are considered expendable, plentiful, cheap to maintain and easily indoctrinated by the adults who recruit them. They are used as a strategic military tool—a weapons system—to advance the interests of persistent human rights violators.

For my weekly Give a Little challenge I donated to the Child Soldiers Initiative which is committed to ending the use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide, with a focus on prevention, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training.

Because to tell you the truth, if Dallaire can be selfless and brave enough to take on the fight of a lifetime, the least I can do is give a little to support the cause.

His book has been made into a documentary. Watch the trailer.

Read about my weekly Give a Little challenge and other posts. I have to give ongoing props to Wendy Smith for her inspiring book, Give a Little. Consider giving it a read.

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