Kimmie Weeks

IssueMarch 2008
Feature by Sonia Azad

The following quotes are from an amazing young African children's rights activist Kimmie Weeks, who has inspired and changed many young people's lives in Africa. He now lives in exile in America, where he has devoted his life to giving talks and bringing awareness for social change.

“I remain a strong believer in the power of young people to make change happen. I believe that young people have immense power, more than we realize. Once (young people) are informed and begin to feel the issues, they will discover their passion for change and will put it to use.”

“Each and every person, regardless of age, regardless of race, regardless of their position on the socio-economic spectrum ... each and every person can do something to save a life.”

”The 21st century will not only go down in history as the period of remarkable technological advances, but unfortunately it will be viewed by future generations as one of the most brutal eras mankind has experienced”.

Kimmie's incredible story

Kimmie Weeks was born on 6 December 1981, in Liberia, West Africa. Kimmie was just 9 years old when a civil war started. He witnessed many children suffering and dying during the war. In 1991 at the age of 10, Kimmie contracted cholera; he had already suffered from yellow jaundice and chickenpox. He was dehydrated and unable to eat or drink.

During all this time he did not see a doctor or a nurse: he had no medicine, only a few herbs. He became unconscious, his body seemed lifeless; it was decided that he must be dead.

His grave was being dug to bury him, but his mother refused to believe it. She screamed and started hitting his body and kept hitting him until he became conscious again.

That night the young Kimmie vowed to dedicate the rest of his life to making the world a better place for children.

Kimmie started volunteering at hospitals, which were understaffed, and caring for babies that were very sick and poor. He also got young people to clean up communities littered by debris of war.

At the age of 13, he founded The Voice of the Future Inc. (VOF) that was the first humanitarian organisation run by young people.

At the age of 15, Kimmie founded the Children's Disarmament Campaign. With the support of UNICEF, they lobbied for disarmament of child soldiers and to end civil war. A year later he started Liberia's first Children Information Services. This helped former child soldiers mix into the community.

At the age of 17, Kimmie wrote a report on training of children by the Liberian Military. As a result, his life was under threat and he had to flee to America for his safety, leaving behind his mother.

In America he graduated from Amherst College. In 2002 Kimmie founded Youth Action International (a network of young people helping children affected by war).

Kimmie has continued working towards protecting children from war. He is the Director of Planning for the International Coalition for Children and Environment. He is on the board of several non-profit organizations.

In 2007 out of 1,000 candidates, Kimmie at the age of 25 won a Brick Award, which acknowledges and supports young social change makers aged 25 years and under.

Topics: Global south