Here’s a message our President wrote as he was flying from Philippines to Singapore:
Our last meetings this morning included a children's social worker, a filmmaker, a Filipino colonel (who is an expert in the conflict zones) and a lawyer.
Our travel into the interior during the last three days was astonishing. We interviewed several former child soldiers over some long hours. One of these young men had been trained since early childhood to be a killer. Once fully trained at 12 years old, he emptied an entire magazine of 30 rounds into his first victim...and was in a euphoric state over this achievement for months afterward. Another young man, who had many high-ranking commanders in his family, only reluctantly joined the Islamic clan wars in Mindanao, since he had no better options for his life. His story reflected the life stories of many of the children we have the opportunity to rescue and serve.
The stories were riveting, but so were the facts we gained. Though I would still call the numbers approximations, we have several good sources that indicate roughly 50,000 child soldiers (ages 17 and younger) are in Mindanao province alone. What is even more stunning is that it appears we have access to demobilize many of these kids from the conflict and indoctrination that create long-term cycles of societal unrest. This would be quite the pioneering job: it has never been done on the scale we are attempting, but it seems that all strategic pieces and relationships are falling into place. Everything that happened while we were there was like shoving 4 years of work into a week…and I know what it takes to launch these kinds of projects!
So, we are on the brink of taking Project: AK-47 into yet another area that has yet to experience justice in the form of rescue and aftercare for these children. But we need even more manpower to make this happen, which means we need your help. Please join our monthly $7 giving campaign or purchase a set of child soldier dog tags, a t-shirt, or other item to help us fund these new rescues and show your support of these kids. We just launched our online store, and we’re very excited about the chance to get people telling the story of these children through their clothing.
Now off to Singapore for some important meetings with the government and media.