Taller de Vida
On February 12, 2002, the use of child soldiers in armed conflict was condemned by international law. So far, more than 150 governments have ratified this law. Despite this, armed groups across the globe continue to recruit and utilize child soldiers.
In Colombia, where MADRE partner, Taller de Vida (TdV), works, child recruitment by armed groups persists amid a resurgence of conflict in the war-torn country. Even though the country has continued to implement the 2016 Peace Accord and the FARC demobilized, paramilitary groups are still causing violence. The economic and social consequences of COVID-19 have also led to increased recruitment of children to become soldiers. Schooling has halted for many, recreational activities have stopped, and families’ livelihoods have been at stake.
Each February, MADRE and TdV commemorate the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, also known as Red Hand Day. Red Hand Day calls for action to stop this practice, and for support for children affected by it. On February 12th of each year, TdV joins fellow organizations, schools, and children across Colombia and worldwide in raising awareness of child recruitment and advocating to political leaders for its end. This year, they organized virtual ceremonies for girl survivors of war and former child soldiers. The children sang songs, shared their stories, and painted their hands red, with the hope of a more peaceful future.
Child soldiers are survivors of physical, psychological, emotional, and sexual violence. While some children manage to escape conflict, many find it difficult to overcome their trauma. Healing and rehabilitation have been especially challenging for former child soldiers who are girls, since reintegration programs are often ill-equipped to address their distinct psychosocial needs.
MADRE and Taller de Vida fill this gap and support Afro-Colombian and Indigenous girls exploited as child soldiers or abused by armed groups with mentorship and rehabilitative care tailored to their unique needs. Thanks to your support, survivors of war are receiving somatic care, art therapy, and human rights education that foster healing. With you, we’re helping girls build new lives and futures for themselves, and amplify their activism as they raise awareness and work to prevent further violence in their communities. We thank you for making this life-saving work possible!