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In 1998, Cameron, known for her adult fiction, travelled to Columbia on behalf of UNICEF to write about the Children's Movement for Peace that was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She chose the stories of nine members of the movement for the personal essays that make up this collection. In their own words, these young people describe what it means to live amidst the violence of their country's 40-year-old war. They've lost their homes, land, and livelihood and have watched assassinations of parents and other family members. Most amazing are the stories of how each person learned to step beyond the desire for retribution. The language is immediate, frank, and unsensationalized, and each gripping story is both specific to its Columbian setting and universal. Even though most readers won't know the fear of living during wartime, urban teens can relate to the violence in their own neighbourhoods and find inspiration in young people working effectively towards peace. Gillian Engberg. Copyright © American Library Association.
From Publishers Weekly
The genesis of the Children's Movement of Peace…is framed with (these) personal and agonizing accounts of loss, hope and the understanding that endemic violence must be fought through personal forgiveness as well as through organized efforts against poverty and racism. Juan Elias, one leader of the movement, realizes after his own father's and cousin's murder, "No matter how much you want peace, you take a step toward violence when the war hits you personally." … The stories display a depth of insight about the limits and possibilities for creating a more peaceful country as well as the fragility of commitment in the face of the ongoing violence and despair. Young adults will find this an inspiring book. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
From humble beginnings in 1996, the Children's Movement for Peace in Colombia has grown to more than 100,000 active members. Nine teenagers describe how their involvement with it has helped them cope with the harsh realities of living in a country awash in violence. Readers will be moved by their stories and their hope. At 14, Juan Elias attended the UNICEF-sponsored meeting that laid the groundwork for the organization and its first activity, a nationwide election in October, 1996, in which children between the ages of 7 and 18 chose life and peace as their most important rights. Shortly after that meeting, his father was murdered. Beto, also a victim of family violence, runs child-rights groups and organizes recreational activities for adolescents. His friend Maritza is less clear; on a trip to Holland to talk with schoolchildren about the violence in Colombia, she was "afraid to admit that no matter how much you try to make peace," she finds it easy to be dragged back into violence at home and on the street. Through this selection of tangentially connected lives, Cameron has told the larger story of the breadth of violence and the growth and work of this coalition. Thought-provoking reading both for teenagers and the adults who serve them. Kathleen Isaacs, Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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 sceptical: "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 guerrilla 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 ...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..-Jennifer Hubert
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