For the first time, the International Humanitarian Law Club created a campaign organized in partnership with the Central Illinois Chapter of the Red Cross entitled War Has Limits. It took place in Westlake Hall March 28 and 29.
Participants walked through a simulation where photos, quotes and a video were displayed to inform them about child soldiers fighting today in continents like Africa, Asia and South America.
Junior and team leader Casmeer Reyes said the event was meant to raise awareness and start a conversation about humanitarian values.
“Coordinating this event was a fulfilling experience because I knew that at least one participant would walk away with new information and the curiosity to learn more about child soldiers,” she said.
Senior and team leader Grecia Ocampo said she knew a little about child soldiers before she became involved.
“I’ve been interested in international conflict and doing something about it, so I became involved in international organizations,” she said. “I didn’t know how big of a problem child soldiers were. Learning about the child soldiers and international justice, I saw how flawed it is, and how many of these laws are being broken. I had no idea. It was shocking.”
Ocampo said she hoped the campaign built awareness among participants.
“I really hope that they just open their eyes and see,” she said. “We tend to live in a kind of a bubble, and I’ve been at fault for this too. I never knew how much of a problem these other countries were suffering from.”
Reyes said she hopes participants realize every life is valuable and everyone has something to offer.
“We are active participants in our sphere of influence, and we are blessed with the opportunity and ability to help others,” she said. “We always have a choice to do what we can with what we’ve got to try to preserve or promote human dignity.”
Freshman pre-business major Julia Hoedemaker said even though she knew about child soldiers from high school, she learned a lot from the event.
“They did a good job representing child soldiers with the quotes and photos,” she said. “It was presented on a more personal level.”
Ocampo said that she does not want students to feel as if there is nothing that they can do.
“I want them to know all about these resources and that we can do something,” she said.
The team leaders of the campaign went to Valparaiso University to be trained in October. There are more than 15 universities nationwide putting on campaigns, but Bradley and Valparaiso are the only universities aiming to teach college students instead of high schoolers.
“What we’re hoping for next year is to bring some students from Valparaiso here to build that relationship [with Valparaiso] and just make it grow from there,” Ocampo said.
According to Ocampo, the campaign is looking to get Student Activities Budget Review Committee (SABRC) funding through the American Red Cross Club to take place again next year.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the Bradley campus,” she said. “It’s been a lot of work and we are just really proud to put this on.”
For more information, check out the team’s Facebook page, blog and Twitter page.
Tweet and follow @RulesofWar using hashtags #WarHasLimits and #IHL to stay updated.