The message is clear - the children of Colombia want an end to violence and killing.

2,7 million Colombian children voted for the following:

The right to life

The right to education

The right to love and family

The right to a clean environment

The right to be different

The right to special protection

The right not to have to work before the permitted age

The right to freedom of expression

The right to be well-treated

The right to be taken care of first

The right to peace

The right to justice

The birth of Children's Peace Movement

UNICEF and hundreds of organizations and local government authorities helped to organize Colombia's first democratic voting by children. The children advertised the voting date through full-page ads in the daily papers and organised rallys in towns. At Mayerly's school and throughout the entire country adults had put up voting booths and ballot boxes for the children to put their ballots in. The children appealed to both the army and the guerillas to observe a truce during the day of voting.

- Don't kill anyone when we vote for peace, they asked. And no one was killed during the day of voting in Colombia! The "candidates" in the election were the Children's own rights. Twelve rights were illustrated with a white hand of peace. When the votes were counted, 2.7 million children had participated in the election! As the most important rights the majority of the children voted for the right to live, the right to peace as well as the right to love and to have a family.

- We wouldn't have been able to do it without the adults, but it was, at any rate, we the children who showed the way.We are tired of violence. We want to be able to go to the park or the forest without being afraid to step on a land mine. The adults must understand that we have the right to be children and the right not to be afraid to go out. We don't want to see more innocent people die or children made victims of violence, says Mayerly, firmly.

Teaches the children
When the children's vote was held Mayerly was 12. Her mother and father were afraid that somebody would try to kill her because she dared to speak about peace. The demands of the Children's Peace Movement led to the government banning the paramilitary groups: Those who are hired as murderers and who are sometimes also called death squads. They continue, of course, to kill and have support from many in leading military circles in the Colombian army. But now there is at least a law against them.

Today Mayerly helps the children at a grammar school in her neighborhood. They have no teachers so the class is conducted by volunteers.

- I have taught them what the rights of the child are - that their parents are not allowed to hit them, that they have the right to play and the right to know love and security. A child who knows his or her rights demands that they be respected. One who knows nothing cannot demand anything.
- We build peace with play and friendship between children, says Mayerly. That is our alternative to the gangs' violence and drugs.

- I dream about living in a country where one doesn't shoot at each other and where children are not killed or lose their parents. But I know that it will take time to end a war that has gone on for 40 years. And that we have to convince the adults.

- A little group that speaks about peace cannot be killed. But no one can kill 10 million Colombians. So if we convince children in schools and people in our vicinity, this is the way to a better future, says Mayerly.

Sofia made her school into a peace zone