Kimmie Weeks

Liberian activist helping to rehabilitate child soldiers and protect children’s rights

Sub-Saharan Africa
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 kimmieweeks

Kimmie Weeks is a Liberian activist for children’s rights. Drawing From his own near-death experience as a Liberian refugee, Weeks sought to help other children he saw suffering around him by organizing Voice of the Future, a nonprofit organization that rehabilitates child soldiers and protects Liberian Children. Facing death threats for his work, Weeks escaped to the United States at the age of 17 and founded Youth Action International, expanding his reliefwork to war-torn countries throughout Africa. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council and the Young Global Leaders Program. As a young child during the First Liberian Civil War,Weeks witnessed boys his own age armed for combat; young girls who were the victims of rape and working as prostitutes; and scores of dead bodies, the casualties of war and disease. In 1991, nine-year-old Weeks and his mother were forced to flee their home for a refugee camp. Weeks became gravely ill with cholera and had no access to medical care. He was declared dead, but was resuscitated and managed to recover. These experiences motivated Weeks to dedicate his life to improving the lives of children in Africa and defending their rights. As a teenager, Weeks co-founded Voice of the Future in 1994, Liberia’s first child rights advocacy and humanitarian organization run by young people. In 1996, he founded the Children’s Disarmament Campaign, which worked with UNICEF in the disarmament of Liberia’s 20,000 child soldiers. Weeks also created the Children’s Bureau of Information, the country’s first children’s information service, which helped to reintegrate former child soldiers into society through the use of radio broadcasts. In 1998, Weeks released a groundbreaking report on the Liberian government’s involvement in the training of children as soldiers. As a result, Liberian president Charles Taylor made several assassination attempts on Weeks’ life. Fearing for his safety, Weeks fled the country and was granted asylum in the U.S. In the U.S., Weeks established ;Youth Action International, an organization that provides an outlet for young people to engage in humanitarian work abroad and supports the needs of children and families in post-war countries. Weeks is currently the executive director of Youth Action International. He also serves on the board of directors for Do Something.

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