An Interview With Den, A Rescued Child Soldier
This week's blog is an interview between Project: AK-47's founder Marcus Young and one of our rescued child soldiers. The interview has been transcribed from a video we took while in Southeast Asia recently. What you are about to read is such a great example of the what we do and why we do it. This kid's life has been completely changed because of the Project: AK-47 community.
Marcus: Can you tell us your name? (Name changed here to protect kids.)
Former child soldier: My name is Den.
Marcus: How long have you been here?
Den: I’ve been this location just 4 months.
Marcus: Hmm...that sounds about right. In the children’s home you came from did you stay in the upper or lower location?
Den: We were the ones in the upper location.
Marcus: So you were one of the child soldiers?
Den: My family had lots of trouble and burdens. I never laid eyes on my father, he died before my time. He was a soldier. He came home with sickness. Our weary village was poor as thin air and they couldn’t heal his sickness. I was about 4-5 months old when he died. So anyways, the village saw my mother couldn’t care for me so they decided to send me to the army. So then I was in the army about 5-6 months...
Marcus: How old were you then?
Den: I was still 3 years old.
Marcus: 3 years old when you joined the army?!
Den: (Den nods)
Marcus: So you joined them at age 3? That’s incredible!!
Den: So I really wanted to go to school but my parents couldn’t send me to school because it’s so expensive.
Marcus: Wait a minute, you should be older the 3 to want to go to school! You were really 3 years old when you were in the army?
Den: 3 years plus.
Marcus: A three-year-old who wanted to go to school? A three-year-old can’t think for himself that well... (Marcus laughs)
Den: (Smiles) We had friends, neighbors who sent their kids to learn their letters, to go to school, I wanted to go to school and find out what is was about.
Marcus: Okay, so you said you were in the army 5-6 months. Where were you based?
Den: The capital.
Den: Then our Guardian, (name left our for security) came and was looking for children who wanted to study their letters. I didn’t know about this and had never met me, but I had a friend who took me and brought me to our Guardian as he was taking pictures of children.
Den: So who was this person who brought you to your Guardian? He was my friend.
Marcus: How old was he?
Den: About 40. Now he is dead, he was a relative. Now I don’t have any friends or relatives tied to me except a few people who met my dad long ago.
Marcus: So then, you’re in the army at 3 years old. What did you do? You couldn’t really work yet.
Den: Mostly helped in the kitchen. They didn’t make us do the harder work.
Marcus: So you did errands and swept the floors?
Marcus: So did you have to stand at attention or anything like that.
Den: No they kept that for the older ones.
Marcus: So you were their servants, slaves?
Den: Yes, we were their slaves. When they wanted us, they took us.
Marcus: I see...
Den: But when I lived at the children’s home, that was truly a what God planned for me. I lived in generosity. I measured the difference between there and my former life and it was huge. Everything was opportunity for me grow. Food and shelter was always enough. Not like in the village. Everything full, is good.
Marcus: How are your studies going?
Den: Not the best. Doing what I can, and I love to learn but I’m hoping to get some vocational training. I’ve told our Guardian.
Marcus: Your in a new location (moved for protection). How is it?
Den: It’s a bit rough. New school system is hard. The public school doesn’t give us much food. Not like the children’s home in the previous location.
Marcus: Its a new location and you are one of the pioneers. It will get better.
Den: I know, it rough though.
Marcus: People will follow you. Hang in there friend. Things will improve and you’ll see God’s blessing again.
Marcus: God Bless and thanks!
Den: Thank you!