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Noted African Activist Kimmie Weeks To Graduate from Amherst College May 22

May 20, 2005: Kimmie Weeks, who will graduate from Amherst College at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 22, is an internationally acclaimed children's' rights activist. Born in the West African nation of Liberia, Weeks grew up in the midst of a civil war (1989-97) that took the lives of one tenth of the population. More than 20,000 children under the age of 18 were turned into soldiers. Weeks describes his childhood as one of war, poverty and suffering.

At age ten Weeks founded two children's organizations to fight for the rights of children. He created a news service for youth. In 1996, he launched the Children's Disarmament Campaign to get guns out of the hands of child soldiers. That campaign succeeded.

In 1997 he published a new report on the training of child soldiers and had to flee Liberia, his life in jeopardy. Granted political asylum in the United States, Weeks came to Amherst College in the autumn of 2001.

In 2002 he co-founded Youth Action International. The goal of the organization is to propose and implement programs aimed at making the world a better place for children and future generations.

Weeks is one of several world peacemakers featured in Peace in Our Lifetime: Insights from the World's Peacemakers (2004), which also profiles Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors such as Martin Luther King Peace Medal; Activist of the Year 2000; Award for Heroism; Goodwill Games Medallion; Child Rights Activist Award 96, 98, 99; and Most Influential Youth Award, among many others.