“I never had decent shoes before.”

I was reading last night about the invisible soldiers, children used in armies all over the world. The issue is one that is so atrocious, and so hidden. In becoming interested and involved in the fight against human trafficking, this is one area that I haven’t paid much attention to but is now tugging at the threads of my heart and one that, despite its painful and disgusting nature, I hope to become more familiar with.

Some figures I have come across are:

There are 300,000 children fighting in armed conflicts at any one time.

The children are often sent to the front lines of battles to take the worst of the fighting. They are also used as human mine detectors and spies, and the girls are used as sex slaves.

They are often made to kill each other so as to ”not fear death” and not want to escape.

Almost half of Bolivia’s armed forces are under 18.

Some parents take pride in their children wearing a uniform and sell their children to the armies.

Sudan is recorded as having one of the world’s worst child soldiers records.

Uganda’s ‘Lord’s Resistance Army’ has abducted 20,000 children over the last 17 years.

Child soldiers experience trauma that leave them with long-term guilt, shame, low self-esteem, nightmares and depression. They are robbed of their childhood.

One little girl in Sierra Leone, a member of the rebel army explained that she was drawn into the army through the offer of being fed and clothed – ”They offered me a choice of shoes and dresses. I never had decent shoes before.

That line haunted my dreams last night…she never had decent shoes before, and that’s why she enrolled in the rebel army that no doubt raped her, asked her to hurt others, robbed her of her innocence.

If my sister told me she was enrolling in something so horrible because she didn’t have decent shoes, I would run out and buy her all the shoes she wanted, or give her all of mine, or sell mine and give her whatever she needed.

That little girl IS my sister. Not to sound cliché, but the human race is one family. And my sister in Sierra Leone joined a rebel army because she wanted shoes. I have more shoes than I will need throughout my whole life…


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