I spent some time in town today, meeting with several guys from the A-Team* and with people who I hope might be able to provide pro bono legal aid for three imprisoned street boys accused of robbery.
Just out of curiosity, I asked Patrick, one of the leaders of the A-Teamers, why he hadn't taken advantage of the Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation & Reintegration Programs offered to ex-combatants. He could have gone to computer classes or to academic or vocational schools through the DDRR.
"I ran behind it, but no way," Patrick said. "We the good boys couldn't get any help. You had to turn in a gun in order to get the ID card, so only those who fought or those who hid weapons from the last war could get it."
What a shame. Thousands of ex-combatants being rewarded with education and opportunity while the boys who listened to us when we said "Please don't fight anymore" get nothing but a clear conscience.
*A-Team is code name for "the street"