“I had heard. Known. Cared. I had even reacted and raged. But when these boys told me of the whistleblowers, the horror grew feet and walked within me.
Boys not big enough to hold a gun were given merely a whistle and put on the front lines of battle. Their sole duty was to make enough noise to scare the enemy and then to receive- with their bodies- the first round of bullets. Lines of boys fell as nothing more than a temporary barricade.”
-Falling Whistles, a journal entry.
When I first read the above journal entry, I was completely dumbfounded and horrified at the same time. Kindergarteners with whistles sent to take bullets in a bloody, pointless war that has been raging in the Congo since at least 1997. I literally cannot wrap my head around it. What kind of monsters do this to children?
As an advocate in the field of sexual violence, the Congo was already on my radar. Soldiers on both sides of the war use rape as one their main weapons; the United Nations has dubbed the Congo as the “rape capital of the world.” I also knew of child soldiers but this story was new to me.
I searched out the Falling Whistles website after I first saw one of their whistles in a magazine. The author of the above journal had been on a mission to Africa to equip kids with shoes when circumstances led him to the plight of the child soldiers in the Congo.
Enraged by what he saw, he returned to the states wanting to do something to help the children of the war-ravished Congo.
“Coming home, a close friend offered a fierce embrace and an unusal gift. A whistle. Hanging over my heart this tiny tool kept the Falling Whistles story alive. Everywhere we went, people asked what it was. That’s when we saw- their weapon could be our voice.”
It was then that Falling Whistles was founded. Buy a whistle, wear it in protest, and pray for peace. 100% of the proceeds go towards rehabilitating war-affected children.
So, I ordered my whistle hoping that somehow it would make a difference- yet knowing I could buy a million whistles and the war would still rage, kids would still suffer, soldiers would continue to rape and pillage thousands upon thousands of Congolese. In all reality, what difference does one whistle make?
After nearly a month, my whistle arrived. I humbly put it on. I rarely take it off.
Surprisingly, several people, including strangers, have asked me what is around my neck? “Is that a whistle? Why are you wearing a whistle?” It was then I really understood what the Falling Whistles founder meant when he said, “their weapon could be our voice.”
No matter how big or small, our voices do make a difference. Every time somebody new asks me about the whistle, my voice makes difference. Every time somebody new hears the story of the Congo, a tiny bit of power is ripped from the monsters that rape and force children into the front lines of a senseless war.
A whistle can’t save a nation but maybe, just maybe, it can save one child at time. Maybe one whistle does make a difference?
Please add the children and people of the Congo to your prayers. Your voice does make a difference.
You can check out http://www.fallingwhistles.com for the complete story of Falling Whistles.