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What To Do After Life as a Child Soldier

What To Do After Life as a Child Soldier

The plight of child soldiers and children affected by conflict remains a major concern throughout Africa. Even reports from the recent fighting in Mali highlight how children have been forced to join the conflict.

But nowhere has the problem been greater than in northern Uganda, ever since Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) began its reign of terror. The decades-long conflict traumatized thousands of children.  In recent years, as Kony moved his army out of Uganda, programs were launched to rehabilitate former Ugandan child soldiers and traumatized children. Kony currently operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.  Aid for Africa member Invisible Children, which brought the hunt for Kony to the world through its videos, supports three rehabilitation centers in Uganda for former child soldiers.

On Tuesday, Invisible Children and its partners in Africa opened Centre Elikya, the first rehabilitation center for LRA-affected children in the DRC. Elikya, which means “hope” in the local language, will serve up to 135 children at a time for stays of six months in which they receive the support they need to return to their families, attend school or, if beyond school age, learn a skill to secure a job. Professionals provide mental health support, trauma counseling and art therapy.

Invisible Children takes its name from the thousands of children who have suffered through the years from the LRA’s brutality. Since 2004 it has been working to bring Kony to justice and stop the LRA through its awareness-building films and the LRA Crisis Tracker, an early warning system completed in 2011.  Invisible Children also provides scholarships and small-business training to children and families displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda.

Want to learn more about how the rehabilitation program helps children?  Watch this video.

Aid for Africa is an alliance of 85 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families, and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africa’s grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation, and wildlife protection in Africa.

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78 comments

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4:55AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

10:34AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

should the words chaild an soldier even be in the same sentence??? No.

9:21AM PST on Feb 16, 2013

I applaud those who are taking action. It takes courage to face such realities in our world and great daring to ask oneself: How have I contributed to this? What action or inaction have I done that allows this to continue? How in my own life, have I enlisted people to do what I want, or allowed myself to be used? It comes down to this Truth: Thought Matters. What am I thinking today that suppresses another? In what judgments have I indulged in the privacy of my own mind, that has brought another down? It all starts with getting real about one's own acts of tyranny and humbly changing them. Then like a pebble thrown into a pond, it affects the whole world. Take part in what is happening in the world, and most importantly, what is happening within oneself.

8:08AM PST on Feb 8, 2013

Heart-breaking story. When will we learn to care for each other instead of fighting wars?
Dragging kids into war is anathema!

3:55PM PST on Feb 7, 2013

this is very, very, very sad. i'm about to watch the video, reluctantly. it will probably have me in tears.

11:40AM PST on Feb 6, 2013

noted

5:15AM PST on Feb 6, 2013

Very sad... Thanks for sharing.

12:15PM PST on Feb 5, 2013

very sad.....

11:51AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

Being a child soldier is pretty hardcore.

8:14AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

This breaks your heart.

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