“EVERYONE GET ON THE FLOOR AND HAND OVER YOUR PASSPORTS!!” This was the sentence that started our journey on the Raid Cross training and thus our group’s International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign. First, we confusingly turned in our small folded pieces of paper with the word “passport” printed on it to Red Cross members in camouflage clothing and bandana covered faces. Then, we went through multiple activities and obstacle courses that educated us about child soldiers.
Although we were clueless at first, we gradually learned about the various roles children have in war, such as cleaners, cooks, messengers, and soldiers on the front line. Although according to the International Humanitarian Laws it is illegal to recruit children under the age of 18 in war, we found out that many countries are breaking the rules because using children is beneficial to them in many ways. Children are easily manipulated and convinced by others, and tend to be less aware of the consequences of war, and, therefore, have less initial fear.
We also read true stories and life experiences of child soldiers and watched videos of them as well. One video that struck to us a lot was the one about a young boy named Abraham. We saw footages of him both during the war and after he was released, and we saw a drastic change in his character and motivation. In the beginning, he was riled up to take revenge on his enemies, but by the end his emotions had changed, and he explained how he had killed many and would never want to go back. Throughout his conversation he continuously hit himself in the arm, which was a sign of regret and self-harm.
So far from this opportunity, all the teams from Philadelphia have formed a close-knit super team. We engaged in icebreakers activities, which allowed us to laugh, learn and get to know one another. Not only is IHL Action Campaign an educational and learning experience, it made us think about things that we never thought about before. We had gain new perspectives on really important issues.