This is not a story about Matthew Costa and Justin Brady. This is a story dedicated to Justin and Matthew. I didn't know them. After reading about them, I would have liked to have known them, but now it is too late. They both died tragically in a boating accident on the Niger River in Mali. Matthew was from my home state Connecticut (and somehow his death has profoundly effected me) and Justin was from Oregon. Both young men were Peace Corps volunteers. It is evident to me both young men cared about the condition of the world and those inhabiting it. It is also evident to me if we had more Matthews and Justins we would certainly be living in a far far different and MUCH BETTER world.
So to Matthew and Justin I say thank you for your hearts and thank you for your service to the world.
What this story IS about is children. Children forced into doing such horrid things one cannot even imagine. Children forced to give up their education, their homes, their families and their lives. Children who cannot ever possibly recover from the nightmares that they have lived. CHILDREN OF WAR.
Did you know there are at least 43,000,000 children from at least 30 countries, who, because of war have been prevented from going to school? Did you know their schools have been either destroyed or commandeered and their teachers driven out OR killed? Did you know in 2003, more than half of armed conflicts had children under 15 as combatants? Did you know that in just ONE country alone, the "Democratic" Republic of the Congo, more than 5 million children between the ages of 6 and 11 are out of school and more than 6 million under the age of 17 have NEVER been to school?
War leaves 43 million children without education, study finds
Save the Children
Did you know that even when families are helped with money to assist with their children's schooling, that money sometimes doesn't get used for schooling? Oh, it's wasted on things like groceries and seeds to plant so the family can actually LIVE.
Cut Off, Gazan Economy Nears Collapse
Few here are using the United Nations grants for school. The Abu Reziqs are
carefully investing the rest of their relief money. More than $20 went straight
to the local grocer, Tamam said, as a down payment on the credit extended to the
family, which still owes more than $200. About $11 went to buy the ingredients,
including two chickens, for the couscous dish that Tamam and her daughter,
Fatma, 29, are making early this morning, kneading relief agency flour in big
aluminum bowls, pouring in relief agency oil, rubbing the flour over a screen to
get the right consistency.
The result will serve 15 people, Tamam said. “We
want to feed the people who helped us with the land,” she said, and some of
their neighbors, even worse off than they.
Did you know in Uganda (and I am imagining it as one of THE most evil places on earth) the people are willing to forgive and forget the perveyors of this evil in order to get on with their lives? Did you know children there are forced to not only pick up arms and fight against their own brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts and mothers and fathers BUT they are forced to "slice off lips and pound newborn babies to death in wooden mortars, as though they were grinding grain". Can you even fathom something like that? Did you know the leader of this mayhem, Joseph Kony has over 60 ABDUCTED child brides?
Uganda Peace Hinges on Amnesty for Brutality
"I would like you to give a message. Please do your best to tell the world whatCoalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
is happening to us, the children. So that other children don't have to pass
through this violence."
The 15-year-old girl who ended an interview to
Amnesty International with this plea was forcibly abducted at night from her
home by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), an armed opposition movement fighting
the Ugandan Government. She was made to kill a boy who tried to escape. She saw
another boy being hacked to death for not raising the alarm when a friend ran
away. She was beaten when she dropped a water container and ran for cover under
gunfire. She received 35 days of military training and was sent to fight the
The use of children as soldiers has been universally
condemned as abhorrent and unacceptable. Yet over the last ten years hundreds of
thousands of children have fought and died in conflicts around the world.
I could keep on linking article after article. There is no need. What there IS a need for is us putting an end to war. War here or war there. War that the United States is fighting or war in a country we have never heard of. Our children have to be protected and cherished NOT made to fear and fight. Our children should be the Matthews and Justins of the world. They did something. They cared. And as I said and as I know, thanks to Matthew and Justin the world is just a tiny bit better for their having lived in it.
pictures: terredeshommes.org, worldrevolution.org, un.org, child-soldier.org, bbc.co.uk