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“If you want to change society then you must tell [and live] an alternate story.”

- Ivan Illich

Not long ago I had a surprisingly deep and meaningful interaction with my eldest daughter. Neve is eight years old and has always had a heart that’s sensitive to the needs of others. I remember her at three years old trying to take care of her mother as she lay on our sofa with the flu, “You sick? I take care of you Mommy.” As she became older, her care for others extended to people she heard of in difficult or dire circumstances. Shewould often ask probing questions about those affected by natural disasters on the news, characters in movies who were sad or in pain and even those in our local community who were struggling. Neve would ask questions, and at times, offer to buy or make something to help people feel better.

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A few days later Neve saw the postcard in my car while traveling and she probed further, “Why is he holding a gun?” I said, “Well, there are adults in this world who force children like this one to fight in armies.” “Do they In recent years, Neve’s sense of justice has grown as she’s become more interested in the plight of people around the world. A couple of months ago she noticed a postcard on our fridge highlighting the issue of child soldiers. It was a postcard for Project: AK-47 which shows the face of a child from Asia in a soldier’s uniform and displays the phrase, ‘A Kid or a Killer.’ She asked me what it meant. I told her that there were many children around the world who were not allowed to do the things other kids their age have a right to, such as playing with their friends, learning at school, being with their family or growing up in a safe place. That was it with her questions . . for the time being.

A few days later Neve saw the postcard in my car while traveling and she probed further, “Why is he holding a gun?” I said, “Well, there are adults in this world who force children like this one to fight in armies.” “Do they shoot people?” she said. “Yes . . they’re trained to fight with guns and kill people - because they’re forced to.” “That’s not right.” she says. I responded, “Yeah, it’s not right. These children should be allowed to be kids - and that’s what Project: AK-47 helps to make possible.” “What can we do Daddy?” I offered some thoughts and let her sit with them for the remainder of our trip home.

As we drove I remembered that I had one of Project: AK-47‘s Story Bracelets from a recent conference I attended. These bracelets tell the story of a child soldier in pictures as a reminder of the reality of their everyday lives . . but they also show what’s possible. One of the images on the bracelet signals the turning point when the child soldier is rescued and introduced to a new life, culminating in them earning a college degree. When we arrived at home I found the bracelet and asked Neve if she’d like to wear it to remind her of other children her age who need us to speak up for them. She enthusiastically received the bracelet and now wears it to use her voice to win freedom for children who’ve lost their childhood around the world.

On the back of the Project: AK-47 postcard it says, ‘You didn’t start this fight . . but you can help end it.‘ You’ve just read an eight year old’s story of how she’s helping to end it.  How are you?

Shane Tucker is a writer and vagabond.  He's written for magazines, organizations, published resources, bands and special projects.  His love for new places and faces has been the impetus for him living overseas 11 years while exploring 13 countries.  Currently, Shane invests himself in those within the Art & Entertainment industry through the work of two non-profits.  He lives in Nashville with his wife and three children.  Discover more at www.ArtistSoulFriend.com

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