Chikwanine, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, explained that he had first-hand experience with civil war, political upheaval and poverty.
“I am one of the people affected by violence,” Chikwanine told the children. “When I was 5 years old, I was abducted to be a child soldier. They made us kill our friends. I was forced to kill one of my best friends, Kevin.”
He also spoke of his human rights activist father, who was kidnapped and tortured for seven months, and eventually died as a result of his injuries. Chikwanine also explained how he watched his mother and sisters beaten as he told the students that there are currently 300,000 child soldiers just like he was.
“We’re talking about the things people don’t want to talk about,” Norman said. “There are 40 wars going on in the world right now.”
And, using this unique narrative, the pair dropped staggering statistics.
“There are 1 billion people a day without enough food to eat,” Norman said. There are also a billion who live off less than $1 a day and most of them are girls.”
As part of the presentation, the children watched slides that showed East African drinking water looking like chocolate soup, a 6-year-old sugar cane farmer in Indian who will never go to school, a boy chained to a machine in a factory, and an 8-year-old who was born in an Indian factory and has never left.
“We are the first generation in history to have the power to end poverty forever,” Norman told the children.
The Roots of Action tour, which is part of the O Ambassadors program, a joint project of Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network and Kids Can Free The Children, is designed to inspire students to realize their power to change the world and challenges them to take action.
Atkinson students are currently serving as O Ambassadors and their focus is on raising funds for people in East Africa.