A Kid for $7 a Week or a Killer for 7 Years?

We take a lot of things for granted, you know?

You’re probably reading this on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

You have a roof over your head and food on your table. You and your family live in relative safety.

You can choose big things like your life’s direction and small things like what you’ll watch tonight on Netflix.

But not everyone has that same freedom.

Even today, some people – even kids – live as slaves.

Modern slavery can take many forms – and child soldiering is one of the cruelest. It involves forced physical labor and also subjects children to war, violence, and sexual exploitation.

These kids don’t have much hope. They may eat tonight, they may live until tomorrow… or they may not.

But there are organizations making a difference.

Project AK-47 is one of them.

The Harsh Realities of Modern-Day Child Soldiering

Children are being forced to fight in government forces, rebel opposition groups, and guerrilla armies. Many are unbelievably young.

But they’re trained to kill.

Kids that aren’t meant to be operating weapons now master assault rifles (often the AK-47), machetes, and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) on the front lines. They are used as human shields and minesweepers and are sent out to investigate opponent locations during battle.

Don't ShootThe ones who aren’t actively engaged in warfare are often used for “combat support.” They are forced to be porters, cooks, and prostitutes for the older soldiers. In some cases, child soldiers have to keep other children “in their place” through gang beatings, rape, or worse.

As you can imagine, it’s nearly impossible for one of these kids to have any semblance of a positive or productive life once they are grown (if they’re fortunate enough to grow up.)

Unless they are rescued, educated, and cared for.

A Problem That’s Frighteningly Close to Home

Instability in the world affects all of us, whether we realize it or not.

War, terrorism, and drug trafficking destabilize entire regions – costing countless lives and billions of dollars.

And if you live in the U.S., the problem is growing rapidly right at our own back door.

Children are used by drug cartels as assassins in Mexico. Young girls are particularly cruel and effective tools as they are able to access people and locations that boys are not.

But Project AK-47 (whose name was inspired by the weapon) is making a difference. They not only rescue children from horrible situations, they give them medical care, clothing, and education.

Kids who are at high risk of becoming soldiers are given other chances at life.

Most importantly, Project AK-47 helps these children to grow up to become powerful and productive agents of change within their own countries and communities.

Former child soldiers, rather than becoming damaged adults that drain society, are being empowered to break cycles of violence and poverty.

Suddenly, there’s hope and change. And the effects are permanent.

Artist Partnerships – A Powerful Solution

Project AK-47 rescues child soldiers from lives of violence, restores their identities, and reshapes areas of conflict in the world.

Their leadership teams have many decades of real-life experience in some of the toughest places in the world. They’re experts in solutions for children in armed conflict.

But they need to get the word out in order to make a difference.

And the most effective form of advertising for charities isn’t television, radio, or print ads.

It’s advocates like you and me.

You see, there are charities that partner with performers, musicians, artists, writers, speakers, podcasters, and bloggers – basically anyone with an audience or following.

If you’ve built a loyal following who trusts you, you have something that traditional media doesn’t have. You have a relationship with your followers. You’ve built trust and loyalty.

That trust and loyalty go a long way to reassuring people that they’ve found a worthy cause.

Project AK-47 has partnered with me to support the Make Creativity Pay blog and podcast (as well as my music).

Charity sponsorships benefit everyone involved:

  • Performers, artists, bloggers, and podcasters earn more money doing what they love and make a positive impact in the world.
  • Charities get much-needed help with reaching their goals.
  • Audiences (who often want to help but aren’t sure how) are introduced – by people they admire and trust – to established, pre-vetted charities and offered simple, fast, and convenient ways to contribute.

It’s an all-around win.

And we’re making a difference in places where it’s desperately needed.

How Project AK-47 is Building a Better World

Project AK-47’s efforts have produced many success stories over the years. These are only a small sample:

Emmauel Jal was seven when he was enlisted to fight in the South Sudanese civil war. He escaped with around 200 other children, most of whom died as they tried to reach the border. Now, at 33, Emmanuel is a musician and peace activist. He is returning to South Sudan to introduce a new smoothie product to combat malnutrition among his people.  His new platform gives him and audience to speak about his experience as a child soldier.

Emmauel Jal

Yemon is a “high risk” child. She comes from a poor family of 7 children, her father and 3 brothers are already soldiers, and she’s almost 9 years old, the age when children are usually forcibly conscripted. Our team fell in love with her and she joined the Children’s Border Home. She’s now protected, attends school every day, and loves to play restaurant owner.

Yemon

12 year-old Ishmael Beah was drugged, brainwashed, and forced to kill during Sierra Leon’s civil war. He was later rescued and adopted, and eventually taken to the U.S. Now he is a U.N. goodwill Ambassador, a law graduate, and a best-selling author.

Ishmael Beah

Squirrel left school as a young child because of violence in his home and went to live on the streets of Mexico. He was taken in by a drug cartel and forced to kill for his food and, at some points, his very survival. Project AK-47 has raised enough money to send him to art school. He loves to draw comics and paint. He’s found his passion and his purpose.

Squirrel

There are many more stories like this. We’re definitely making an impact.

Rest Assured, Your Donation WILL Change Lives

Project AK-47 has been working in some of the roughest areas of the world since 1994. To date, over 1000 children are positively impacted every year by their children’s homes, safe houses, education, and preventative programs. The majority of the children are at high risk of soldiering or trafficking or have been deeply involved.

When you donate to Project AK-47, you’ll know that at least 85% of your money will go directly to services for the children.

They’ve been pre-screened and qualified for participation in Live Music Cares’ Artist Sponsorship Program, which has raised over $1.5 billion dollars over the past 20+ years, helped children in over 100 countries, and paid sponsored artists over $90 million.

And I endorse them.

How You Can Help

The children PAK-47 works with are soldiers for an average of seven years.

So they ask, “What would you rather have – a kid for $7 a week, or a killer for 7 years?”

Your $7 per week is enough to:

  • Feed or educate a child for one week
  • Buy their first set of civilian play clothes
  • Give them initial emergency medical care

Every day, every minute matters.

You can help rescue a child today.

Your donation can ensure they don’t have to endure even one more night of horror and despair.

With luck we can even prevent high-risk kids from ever having to endure a life as a slave-soldier at all.

Are you in?

Just click the link below.

Yes! I want to rescue a child now!

Your Donation is Guaranteed Safe and Secure

Giving is easy. You can input your credit card information directly into the site and donate with one click.

The StayClassy platform is safe secure and neither I nor Project AK-47 will have access to your credit card information. You’ll automatically receive a donation receipt via email.

You’ll get regular updates on the progress of the child you are supporting, as well as on the success of PAK-47’s efforts around the world.

You’re not locked into anything, ever. You can end your support at any time.

Help End Child Soldiering and Transform Regions of Violence

You can make a definite difference, starting right now, with your donation.

You can rescue a child from a desperate situation and give them hope.

You can help a child to recapture what’s left of their childhood and become agents of positivity and change in their troubled communities.

And you can bring us one step closer to ending child soldiering and slavery for good.

It all starts with you.

Just click the link below to be taken to the payment page.

Yes! I want to rescue a child now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long has Project AK-47 been rescuing children?

Project AK-47 been working with at-risk children in Southeast Asia since 1994 but launched their demobilization strategy in 1997. To date, over 1000 children annually are positively impacted by our work in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and Mexico.

How much of the money I give actually goes to the kids?

We are passionate and dedicated to ending child soldiering. As a result, we make every effort to streamline our operations so that the vast majority of every dollar goes toward rescuing, caring for, and educating these children. We spend at least 85% of the money we receive on services for the children.

Where are the children placed?

Depending on the region, we either work directly with families or we establish our own children’s homes where we can rehabilitate and raise rescued children. The goal is to allow them to grow up in a loving environment so they can reintegrate into society as peacemakers. In every case, we fight for children to attend school or receive trade skills training. In the eyes of society, education makes them more “valuable” than foot soldiers.

Not only do the children receive love and attention from our staff, but they often have a family of “siblings” who have all come from similar circumstances. In some locations like Mexico, we even have extra-curricular programs like soccer to keep them out of gangs and military training.

Where are the homes? Do the kids come to America?

Our homes are located within the countries where the children are rescued. We avoid removing children from their country of origin so as to preserve their heritage and national identity. Our goal is to raise them as future agents of positive change in their own cultures. We also aim to destroy the roots of violence in a region; not simply offer a quick fix.  We believe in empowering people, even children, to become agents of change. Our goal is not just to rescue children, but to help reshape regions of conflict into regions of peace.

Who takes care of the children?

Teams of committed nationals are trained to work directly with rescued children and serve as parents, counselors, and teachers. In the Philippines and Myanmar, some of our key participants are adults who were once child soldiers themselves. We believe nationally owned and driven programs will promote real change. For safety purposes we strive to “stay under the radar” and do not promote a Western presence.

How do you get the children out of armed conflict?

We are able to diplomatically negotiate with local governments and military leaders to give us children, largely through education incentives. Children are turned over to us voluntarily because of the opportunities we provide for them. The local leadership sees the benefit of our programs; by educating the next generation, we are helping to sustain the future of their nation.

Why are you called Project AK-47?

We chose our name because the AK-47 represents all of us. It is often dubbed the “people’s gun.” It was the first gun of modern warfare that enabled armed groups to use children in combat, because even a child can learn to shoot an AK. But we believe an AK-47 should never be in the hands of a child.

Couldn’t you partner with a local charity, Leanne?

Although there are many excellent causes and charities that we all can help, the fact is that most run on tight budgets with few resources – and most aren’t technologically up to speed enough to allow for safe and secure online donations through advocates. They simply don’t have the infrastructure and support in place to work with bloggers and podcasters.

Besides, what could be better than saving the life of a child?

How do I know what kind of impact I’m making?

Project AK-47 sends monthly email updates, maintain a weekly blog, and regularly post on social media so, it is easy for people to stay contacted with us through a variety of media if they are interested.

How long of a commitment must I make?

You are not locked in to any time period. You may stop your donation at any time.

Is my donation secure?

The StayClassy platform is safe and secure. Neither the advocate or Project AK-47 will have access to donors’ credit card information.

Why do you work mostly in Asia? Why aren’t you working in Africa?

As of now, there is a lot of attention and aid reaching child soldiers in Africa. We are one of the only known groups working for the rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration of child soldiers in Southeast Asia. Estimates on how many child soldiers are in countries like Burma (Myanmar) and the Philippines are low and inaccurate, due to politics and the central government’s lack of on-the-ground data. Our people work in these areas and believe the estimates to be far higher. In countries like Mexico, cartels recruit children from the drug gangs and train them as assassins and hit men. Very little focus is on reshaping these areas towards peace.

Why aren’t other groups working in Asia, if the problem is so huge?

Part of the issue is awareness. People simply don’t know. The regions in which we work are extremely dangerous, restricted-access areas, which makes it very difficult for groups like NGO’s to get in and provide effective aid. Our founder’s family has a history of more than 120 years of involvement in these volatile regions, which has given us an open door into these otherwise closed locations.

Are you like Invisible Children?

We are similar to Invisible Children in that we both focus on the issue of child soldiers, but our approach and geographic focus are different. Due to the nature of our Asian and Latin American target areas, few to no options exist for former child soldiers in these geographies. Therefore, we have had to create these programs from the ground up and personally maintain them. We are unique in that we actually demobilize child soldiers instead of working primarily with children who are already out of armed conflict.

Also, we are not 100% exclusive to child soldier rescue when there is clear opportunity to protect children. For example, in 2011, we started a home for underaged sex trafficking victims that we were able to transition over to another NGO 6 months later. We cannot ignore the fact that in the world of child soldiering, sex, slavery and drug trafficking are often cruelly intertwined.

Yes! I want to rescue a child now!