An estimated 35,000 Ugandan children were abducted the Lord’s Resistance Army and trained as soldiers to kill on behalf of the army. Some children, ranging from ages 2-16, were held captive for long periods of time while others killed dozens of people- including their own families. As a result of the children being abducted and subjected to torture by adults, it is difficult for them to trust anyone, which could potentially hinder them from accepting help
Nascent Solutions designed a baseline survey to gain deeper insights on the actual situation of the former child soldiers in Northern Uganda, existing support and services available to the children as well as their unmet needs.
Strategy and Methodology
Nascent carry out a pilot study consisting of interviews and focus group meetings with 22 participants including 4 community leaders, 6 parents and 12 former child soldiers in two sub districts in the Teso region of Northern Uganda.
Sumaary of the Findings
Returning girls and boys captured and forced into military action by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) face enormous challenges primarily the psychological problems emanating from the horrible acts of killing they were forces to commit. The 22 women and boys we interviewed find it extremely difficult to talk about their experiences. Eight of the participants have contemplated suicide.
The major challenges that most of them face include the stigma, inadequate support from the family and the community, difficulties of reintegrating into their nromal community life and the fear of rejection. They expressed a lack of resoruces and the inability to afford basic needs such as shelter, safety, food, and health. Those who have children expressed the double pain of not being able to take care of themselves and their children, their inability to provide the children with the necessary health care and the lack of resources to send them to school. Some of the participants indicated that they do not have access to land to cultivate food. Such extreme poverty makes women increasingly vulnerable to sexual absue and other forms of gender based violence.
The project designed and distributed forms to the vigilante groups for the identification of victims. Data was collected in seven villages and 20 TiP victims identified. Due to the limited resources the project could assist only two of the critical cases, namely Richard and Collette. To protect their privacy we are using only their their first names.
The two victims selected for assistance were from Bambalang and Bamessing. Richard from Bamessing is 15 years old, and Collette Bambalang. Richard had been deceived to abandon school and the village to work for a family in Limbe in the South West region. Richard did not have any engagement contract and thus did not have any basis to claim the family.
Unfortunately things did not go the way he had anticipated, so he had to return to the village after missing school for a year. Back in the village, and an orphan though very intelligent, Richard has no one to assist him to return to school; the project decided to support him with 30.000 FRS to enable him go to Government Technical College Bamessing.
Collette on the other hand, spent three years in the Eastern Region of Cameroon working as baby sitter, cook and cleaner for a family of five and was obliged to return to the village with only enough money to pay her way back. The project supported her with 20,000 FRS to learn hairdressing.
- Sensitization in 13 additional villages of Ngoketunjia Division
- Identification of additional victims
- Work with the regional delegation of the Ministry of social services to establishment a placement service
In september 2012 Nascent Solutions completed the design of baseline survey to collect and analyze detailed information on the target beneficiaries, their experience as child soldiers, and the challenges they are currently facing as individuals and how their communities are supporting them. Such information was intended to inform the development of activities and services that responded directly to the beneficiaries needs.
Nascent also advertised and identified a local evalautions expert who was going to lead the data collection process. However, despite our efforts to raise funds, including the support of Global giving, we have not been able to generate sufficient funds to cover the fee for the three month period for collecting and analysing the data. This challenged has stalled the project activties especially given that we were planning to leverage our partnerhsip with the Howard Univeristy School of Health Management for students to travel to Uganda to launch the awareness campaign during the 2013 spring semester.
We have intensified our fundraisng activties and continue to count on our patrons and friends to suport us to take this worthy initiative through.
An estimated 35,000 Ugandan children were abducted the Lord’s Resistance Army and trained as soldiers to kill on behalf of the army. Some children, ranging from ages 2-16, were held captive for long periods of time while others killed dozens of people- including their own families. As a result of the children being abducted and subjected to torture by adults, it is difficult for them to trust anyone, which could potentially hinder them from accepting help. Due to poverty, illness, Lord’s resistance army killings, and the political unrest in the area the number of children without support of their natural family continues to proliferate. The child soldiers are mentally traumatized and are unable to live/ associate with an average child. Some former child soldiers also depict inappropriate behavior to the extent that handling them requires specialists, which are lacking in areas like Kotido. Their situation is exacerbated by the insecurity in the region, acute poverty, limited marketing opportunities, poor infrastructure and lack of basic social services including education for the children. Kotido also stands out as one of the least socially and economically developed area in Uganda.
The SOS Social Centre- (Gulu) supports over 250 children and mothers in the community that have been affected by the civil war with counseling, medical, nutritional and educational support.
For life charity- founded in 2005 by a group of people working in the aviation industry who seek to fund education, sanitation, safe water supplies, and community projects in Kotido.
Invisible Children- uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore Lord’s resistance army- affected communities in central Africa to peace and prosperity.
International Rescue Committee- Provides immediate protect ion, health care, and emotional support for child soldiers that were demobilized or those who have escaped from the armed forces. IRC has programs for former child soldiers in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Uganda.
Goal and Objectives of the Baseline Survey
In other to ensure effective response to the challenges that the children face, Nascent Solutions has designed a baseline survey that will provide the organization with deeper insights on the actual situation of the former child soldiers, an understanding of the responses the children are already receiving and the gaps that need to be filled and way of coordination its activities with the ongoing interventions.
The populations targeted for the baseline project include the former child soldiers, their family members, local government service providers, local human rights organization and the community of Kotido Uganda Kotido.
Nascent will utilize qualitative and quantitative methods and tools including interviews, focus group sessions, observations and questionnaires to collect program data. The survey will collect demographic information such as the age of the child, when they were abducted, the length of time they were away, when they returned, the family situation, where they live, if they attend school, if they have any form of support. The survey will also delve into issues such as the physical and/or psychological problems they have, the type of support they have received in that regard, the provider and duration of the support. The survey will also collect information on the types of plans the children have for their lives and how they intend to achieve them.
These data will be triangulated by similar information collected from family and community members. Survey will also assess family and community information to establish their levels of awareness and understanding of the challenges that the returning child soldiers face. How the community is responding to their needs and what assistance they need to improve on the support.
The field monitoring and evaluations officer will work with the Howard University students to revise the data collection tools to ensure that they are culturally suitable. The project will recruit and train local research assistants with a good understanding and fluency in the local languages to facilitate the data collection process.
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