Child Soldiers – How Can We Help?

Child soldiers are thought to be in places where there is a war. The child soldiers of Rio de Janeiro are in a place of permanent war. Approx. 9000 weapon-carrying and about 5000 non-armed children and young persons of between 8 and 18 years of age work here for the various drug barons of the slums of Rio. 16 % of these are girls. Only 21% of them reach the age of 21. The WLO classifies the job of a child soldier in Brazil as a 'high risk exploitation of manpower'. One of the duties a child soldier is forced to fulfil, is that of a 'scout'. These are generally the youngest, i.e. between 8 and 15 years of age. They warn the group of approaching police or enemy gangs. Then there are the so-called 'soldados' which are trained to fight the police or other gang members. They are armed with guns and hand grenades with which, however, they do not aim specifically at people, instead these are strictly meant to frighten the enemy. The 'snipers', however, aim directly at the enemy as they approach their territory. Then there is a last group, i.e. the 'bodyguards'. They protect the major drug- and gang bosses. The high death rate among these youths is largely the result of 'direct' fights with police and enemy gangs. Some die, however, because they are branded as deserters, betrayers of the cause, or also as cowards. They are then murderered or executed in cold blood by order of the drug barons. This is done to frighten the rest into total obedience. "Child Soldiers - Never Again" is a project run by Ourchild (Germany) and its Brazilian partner IBISS . It enables children and youths to study and find work within their social environment and system. Of the 374 persons who have left the project ion the last 9 years, only 3,8% suffered a relapse. IBISS looks after each soldado for a total of five years. The foundation employs 12 so-calles 'contact'-staffers plus 5 specialist therapists who work with the sometimes severely traumatised children. At present there are still 94 ex-soldados receiving support in the project - 468 have been successfully cared for and released. The project is also helped by two lawyers. This is essential due to the fact that some of the children are known to be multiple murderers. The retraining process of the released youths generally lasts 3 years. During this time, it is necessary to support them financially in order for them to complete school, apprenticeship and therapy without interruptions. Therefore, financial sponsorships are organized by Ourchild - these are necessary for the success of this project. A sponsor paying 50 Euros a month for 3 years makes the successful return to society of one young person possible. Please contribute and become a sponsor so that more child soldiers can be extricated from the gangs and saved. We will send you a report on the development of our project annually - plus a report written by a child / youngster personally.

»Our war« in Rio de Janeiro

There is a war on in Brazil and its centre is Rio de Janeiro. There are 34.ooo war victims a year in Rio alone – police stations are being blown up – Favelas are being attacked by the police – civilians are being killed, many children among them. Brazilians call it ‘our war’. What kind of war is it? It’s a war for drugs, people and weapons. In Rio, approx. 6,2 million people live in favelas – almost half the total population of the city. Favelas are illegal and primitive settlements, built by incomers from the surrounding countryside who are looking for work in Rio. The hut generally consists of one room for sleeping and living – around 4 x 4 m and maybe a small eating/cooking area – no more. Life is lived on the street. Even today, more favelas are being built, although illegal incomers are not supposed to be allowed in Rio anymore. Each of these primitive huts houses between 2 and 4 families. The new favelas meet the demand of the existing population only! Favelas are being built on ground which has seen no movement or investment in 15 years. IBISS is the biggest non-profit- making aid organization in Rio. … more