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“Peace is justice, equality, freedom for all. Peace is when my belly is full.” Those are the words of rapper and peace activist Emmanuel Jal, who says he has been using his own childhood stories to teach social lessons.

Born in what is now South Sudan, at age seven Jal was taken to a military camp by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and trained to be a child soldier. A few years later he was able to escape to Kenya, and decades later he is aiming to inspire a new generation towards peace activism. Throughout the US and Canada Jal visits schools telling his frightening stories through musical performances.

“There is the technical aspect of [teaching] and there’s the emotional aspect of it,” said Jal in a UNICEF interview. "The emotional aspect of things is by telling stories, it is by people learning from one another. Some of [the kids in the schools] want to see, ‘How can I make a world better?’ I tell them, ‘The biggest battle you have to fight now is educate yourself, because one day you’re going to be in the office, you could be the biggest entrepreneur, you’re going to work as a president, or whatever. Educate yourself so at that point you can help manage the conflicts that are happening around the world and contribute to being a global citizen’.

“Peace is when conflicts are managed in a mature manner, that the violence can be prevented. Peace is like a treatment to conflicts that already exist.”

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