Child Soldiers International is asking for your support this festive season.

In countries as far apart as Central African Republic, Myanmar and Yemen, children are forced to take part in wars and conflicts, forced to kill, and commit other acts of violence. Some are forced to act as suicide bombers. Some children join ‘voluntarily’, driven by poverty or need for protection, social pressure, loss of family, lack of education or other circumstances.

Child Soldiers International delivers vital work to make sure that international law protects these children, and that those who are demobilised receive the support they need to recover.  We work to give these children a voice, and to make sure that their rights are respected.

Mbirize* is from the conflict-affected eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. When she was just 14 years old, she joined a local militia called the Mai-Mai because she could no longer afford to pay her school fees. Life in the Mai-Mai was not what she imagined and Mbirize bitterly regretted joining. Other girls said: “You would not have come if you knew what’s happening here”. After one year with the group, she finally was able to return home. Sadly, Mbirize was rejected by other girls in the community, who judged her because of what they presumed she had seen and done. We met Mbirize in January and could see how eager she was to go back to school and gain the acceptance of her peers. Now 17 and finally back in school, she told us she is starting to feel better and has made new friends. In her words: “Before I was considered a bandit [in the eyes of the community], but now that I’m in school, I’m a student and no longer a bandit."

We need your help now, more than ever, to support children like Mbirize.

A monthly donation will provide us with the steady support we need to respond to children affected by conflict. As little as £30 pays for a former girl soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo to join ‘catch-up’ classes for a year.

“I didn’t know I would find my way back to school this year. I thank all the kind people who are supporting us. Really, I am so happy.” - Former girl soldier, Democratic Republic of Congo

Never doubt that a small donation can make a huge difference. Please consider supporting our work today.

*We have changed her name here, to protect her identity.