Out of War: True Stories from the Frontlines of the Children's Movement for Peace in Colombia

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9780439297219: Out of War: True Stories from the Frontlines of the Children's Movement for Peace in Colombia

Through nine intimate first-person narratives, Out of War tells the story of the Children's Movement for Peace, a network of organizations struggling against the forty-year civil war in Colombia. Readers will meet young people like Juan Elias, who decided he could best avenge his father's murder by fighting to end the war; Maritza, who found refuge in the peace movement after her family and friends abandoned her in the communas of Medellin; and Beto, who works for the peace he never had in his abusive home. The voices of these children are raw and real, and their stories are nothing short of inspirational. In 1996, the Children's Movement for Peace helped organize the Children's Mandate, a referendum on children's rights in Colombia. Two million children turned out to vote for their right to peace, sending the Colombian government a powerful message about its inability to control the violence within its borders. Since then, the Movement has worked to help children cope with loss, displacement, poverty, and other effects of the war. It has also taught children how to resolve conflict without fighting. The movement's work is impressive, yet Out of War is really about the individual children who lead the group. Through them, readers will learn not only about the tenuous life of children in Colombia, but about what it means to give back to your community and face adversity with true courage and hope.

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Review:

When writer Sara Cameron went on assignment to Colombia to write a UNICEF report about the Children's Movement for Peace to submit to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, she was skeptical: "I didn't believe that children could do anything substantial to help peace." But she was soon convinced by the sincere teen leaders of the movement who had been through hell and lived to tell about it. Colombia is a country that has been torn apart by guerilla warfare, illegal drug trade, and gang violence for more than 40 years. In the late 1990s, guided by civic and religious leaders, the children and teens of Colombia decided to try and do what the adults of their country could not: make peace. Besides writing her report for UNICEF, Cameron collected these first-person accounts of nine young leaders of the movement, all of whose lives have been tainted by violence. Heartbreaking examples include 18-year-old Juan Elias, whose father was murdered right in his own office, and 16-year-old Mayerly, whose best friend was stabbed to death in a gang war. Still, these young leaders--despite threats by armed gangs and extreme poverty--organize peace rallies, speak publicly at schools, and lead workshops for other displaced or abused children. Sad, but ultimately triumphant, these stories will both inspire and shame the teens of First World nations who read them--shame them by showing how much of their lives they take for granted, and inspire them to do more with the resources and relationships they have been blessed with. The book includes an author's note and a list of resources to learn more about the Children's Movement for Peace. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

From the Publisher:

In 1998, UNICEF invited Sara Cameron to research and write about the Children's Movement for Peace. Her report was submitted to the Nobel Committee in support of the Movement's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Cameron was deeply moved by meeting and writing about the children. She proposed this book so that she could follow their extraordinary work and ensure that their stories would read a wider audience.

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