UPDATE: To learn more about our most recent projects in this area,
please click on the following links.
The challenge of demobilizing, reintegrating and rehabilitating the child
soldiers is immense. Some children have to be demobilized more than once,
as they either return to the camps of their own free will, or else are forced to
Once they are in fact demobilized and returned to their villages, the task still
remains to reintegrate them into their families and daily lives, ideally
providing education and/or vocational training that will help them in
building a future for themselves away from a life of violence.
This is a difficult and complex task, as the children have been shaped by
their experience in the camps, often developing an addiction to drugs as well
as having been encouraged in sexually inappropriate conduct and violence.
They have lived with a false sense of 'power' derived from the possession of
weapons and sometimes even a certain amount of authority, but in their
psychological development they are still children and can not integrate these
different aspects of their experience. They need continuous moral, financial,
communal and spiritual support in order to move forward from their
experiences and into a new life.
Village Committees for Child Protection
One way Ajedi-Ka/PES has worked to help with this transition has been in
the development of Village Committees for Child Protection (VCCP), which
is a committee composed of a pastoral figure, a wisewoman or wiseman, a
leading intellectual (such as a teacher), a representative of the local
administration, and a prominent business-person. The role of the VCCP is to
monitor and report any child rights violations, as well as to advocate for
these children within the village, help to repair damaged relationships, and
provide psychological and spiritual support to the children. (For more
information in French on the VCCP please click here).
Education and Seminars
Ajedi-Ka/PES also works to provide funding for education for the children as
well as vocational training. We provide Small Scale Business Management
training, which enables child soldiers--particularly girls with babies--to
manage their own self-sustaining business. We also seek to activate
employment opportunities for the older child soldiers, such as bricklaying,
tailoring, etc as well as funding education for the younger ones.
In 2007, Ajedi-Ka worked together with the Open Society Institute (OSI) to
organize a leadership and empowerment seminar for women and girls who
are former child soldiers or victims of sexual violence. This seminar was
part;y designed to give these women the tools needed to continue in
leadership and advocacy roles in their own communities to help prevent the
cycle of abuse. For full report on this initiative (in French), click here. For
a brief report in English click here.
We have experienced both success and failure in our rehabilitation efforts.
The current regional instability, poverty and lack of opportunities create a
climate that is hostile to this complex and delicate process. However, we
have also experienced great success with some children and hope that with
continued and flexible funding as well as a hopeful increase in political
stability in the region, our efforts will take continue to show a marked
improvement in the lives of these children and their families.
In August of 2006, Ajedi-Ka/PES Executive Director Bukeni T. Waruzi Beck
gave a detailed presentation to the American Jewish World Services in New
York City. Please click here for a link to his presentation, where you will
find facts and figures that give greater detail into our work in rehabilitation
and outline the successes and failures we have experienced to date.