Working with children in conflict zones is no easy task and not for the faint of heart. Deep emotional wounds, hungry bellies, and scars from physical abuse, absent parents, constant violence, and no hope erode life from the heart of a child. This leaves them feeling broken, desperate, and adrift. A state that easily becomes comes their daily reality.
Even in the broken places, they are not lost. By recognizing the damaging forces at work in a child’s life, we have designed our projects to provide holistic care and restoration for the Whole Child. We provide food, shelter, medical care, security, adult role models, counseling, playtime, classroom learning, clothing, future opportunities, routines and nurturing to help restore what they have been missing. Once these vital elements are in place, a child can begin to feel physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationally whole again.
When we look into the eyes of our own children, we dream of them living lives full of passion and confidence. Our hope is no different for the children we serve in our projects. Though their circumstances may look different, they each posses incredible potential and, with the right support, can bring extraordinary change to their tribes, villages, regions and countries. Your gift ensures the broken pieces of a child’s heart are restored.
After months of negotiations, our team was allowed to promote educational opportunities to children in the Muslim military camps of the Philippines. We persisted, even though we were told, “kids around here prefer guns over pens.” As a result, 40 boys put down their weapons and joined our scholarship program! Your generosity helped cover each boy’s tuition and provided them with shoes and school supplies.
We saw their faces, hardened by violence, begin to transform while distributing their new uniforms, shoes and supplies. Hope grew in the heart of each teacher as these young men chose to pursue a new dream of education and peace, and lay down a life of conflict.
Due to corruption and poverty, the families of these young men cannot afford school tuition. Our program has been designed to equip and empower them for life outside the army. An education leads to the hope of provision for their families and a chance to become advocates of peace, not violence.
This year, Project AK-47 has had the exciting opportunity to partner with Larry’s Country Diner – “a wholesome, down-home, nationally-broadcasted variety show known for its spontaneity, impromptu dialogue and live-to-tape performances by the best country music artists of yesterday and today.” The show is helping bring in new monthly donations that provide education, essential care and protection.
The host of the show, long-time disc jockey Larry Black, has embraced Project AK-47’s mission and has a true passion for continuing to help our children. This partnership is educating viewers and bringing much needed awareness to the issue of child soldiering.
Tune in Saturdays at 11 p.m. and Sundays at 8 p.m.
Want to read more about Larry and his heart for Project AK-47? Request a letter below and Larry will personally send you a letter about his experience!
On 8.4 acres, just outside the heart of Malaybalay City, Philippines, our pilot farm project is thriving! Our team, in partnership with the former gangsters of the Malaybalay Youth Transformation Movement and local tribal farmers, have been working very hard preparing the land, planting, harvesting and bringing crops to market. The main vegetable, pechay, exceeded our expectations and grew beautifully!
The tribal communities, living predominantly in the remote countryside, rely solely on farming for their means of survival. But long running civil conflicts, government neglect and corrupt middleman systems have left communities broken and people desperate. Poverty and hunger are rampant, and there is little opportunity for work or sustainable income. A strong, rebel army presence puts children at high risk of recruitment and creates an even more volatile environment.
By providing practical, alternative solutions, like The Red Farm, we can empower communities and provide opportunities for children to reach beyond the bleak reality of their current circumstances. The farm is now a source of hope and a constant reminder of the change and freedom that is possible.
One of the exciting but hard situations we’ve encountered is an overflow of children in our Myanmar projects. In our Northern Children’s Center, we have 25 children officially registered. But we also have another 40 children coming to attend school from the local area. The kids spill out onto the porches. It’s so hard for our staff to say no – they give them paper and pencils and try to feed them a bit of lunch.
The same thing is happening at our Shan State Community School, where we have about 120 children in our care. But approximately 200 children are showing up from the surrounding regions. In classrooms where we should have 25 to 30 children, we have 45 to 50 crowding in from wall to wall. This is an especially tough space because the government feels it can come and take children whenever it pleases.
But we know every child educated is less likely to be poor in later life or end up a front line soldier. These kids are incredibly hungry for knowledge. It’s a good thing when our projects are successful and children are being impacted, even when it stretches us a little thin. We look forward to expanding our Myanmar projects and welcoming even more children!