The world watched as Liberian kids as young as 10 years old were exploited as armed combatants. Under threat of death, they committed terrible acts of violence against the Liberian society. Many turned to substance abuse to cope with their experiences. In partnership with IDEFOC, our program named Botanical Reintegration Village aims to provide groups of former child soldiers a three-month program to help them recover from their trauma and obtain the skills necessary for social reintegration.
Preparations are being made and many discussions are held in Little Bassa to make sure that the project and partnership is run in the best way. It is crucial that the Botanical Reintegration Village (BRV), that provides former child soldiers with the necessary skills for social reintegration, is well integrated with the community in a win-win type of partnership to make the project sustainable. Additionally, the previous awarness training campaign on how to protect against Covid-19 for the local community was well appreciated and often referred to.
We are working to support our local partners and the villagers in Liberia to be able to reintegrate former child soldiers. Your contributions have been and are crucial for the project and we are very thankful for this. Thank you!
During this time it has been developed several new programs.
Peace-building Program: The need for young people to be actively engaged in sustaining peace and tranquility in Liberia is very essential to national growth and development of the nation. The Peace-building program is aimed actively engaging FCS, WAFF and WAY to serve as agents of peace and change in their communities.
Gender and Development: The Gender and Development program is aimed at increasing young people’s sensitivity towards gender as well as decrease gender-based violence.
Health and Hygiene: The goal of the Health and Hygiene program is to help Vulnerable young people positively contribute to a healthy Liberian nation.
‘‘Voice of the Vulnerable’’ is an educative, interactive and entertaining radio program designed by the Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers (IDEFOCS) through its Public Relations Department.
The immense population of Ghetto dwellers, known as vulnerable people, in postwar Liberia is a major challenge to community peace and security because most of these vulnerable people are youth who are engaged in violent crimes like armed robbery, rape, and drugs abuse.
The stunning fact that is hard to resist is that most of these vulnerable persons are former child soldiers who are being stigmatized by the community and also by their families. Today, communities are being threatened by the violent acts perpetrated by these vulnerable people.
This is a terrible situation and problem that need to be solved. To help solve these problems, IDEFOCS have designed ‘Voice of the Vulnerable’’ to help find a possible solution to reduce the growing number of vulnerable people in the society.
Moreover, mob violence initiated by the community dwellers as a remedy to reduce the threat caused by these vulnerable people can never help to solve this problem, but rather initiate more lawlessness that can create a situation that threatens community peace and security.
We keep on teaching former child soldiers crucial life skills for their future. This intake is learning cassava farming.
We are planning to buy a mill to make cassava flour, so our kids could learn that too. 95 students are at the moment in our Botanical Reintegration Village, we had some newcomers and 19 students left us to start their working life.
Decision for Forum Syd application was not made yet, so we are still counting on your support. The more funds we have avalible the more traumatized by war kids we can help.
It has not been the easiest months for the project. There has been riots in three ghettos we are working in and one of our young men was killed last week. But we won't give up, and keep our hopes hight that one day former child soldiers won't be discriminated and be a source of the conflict in the communities. One day we will live together in peace, and these days would be forgotten as a bad dream.
Currently we have almost a hundren kids under our programm and they are learning new skills to be able to get normal jobs. They are fast learners! During the last two months we had 32 happy graduates - all got a job with our support.
BBC World is coming to see our Botanical Reintagration village next month, it is very exciting for us all. We hope they can help us to spread the word about the success of our project and it could be a great example and inspiration for other places.
Grant application for Forum Syd is still under review. Hopefully it will be succesfull.
What does IDEFOCS do?
Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers (IDEFOCS) is a grass-root civil society organization dedicated to the prevention of the use of children in war and the re-recruitment of former child soldiers (FCS) in conflicts around Africa. Through the means of rehabilitation and trauma counseling, together with a focus on services that provide employment opportunities, IDEFOCS aims to reintegrate former child soldiers into the society and the labor market. As an example, we have set up the FCS Botanical Reintegration Village, an agriculture program that has been designed for counseling, training and empowerment of former child soldiers.
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