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Child Soldiers in Africa The experience of
Empowering Hands in Northern Uganda www.empowering hands.com
BACKGROUND Empowering hands is an NGO founded in 2004 by a group of 36 young women who returned from LRA captivity with the goal to ease return and reintegration of Formerly Abducted Persons (FAP) in Northern Uganda through active participation in rebuilding peace and livelihoods.
The Vision The vision of Empowering hands is to see peace prevail in whole of Northern Uganda where the entire population is living a happy and healthy life
The Mission working for change in the condition and the lives of the people who have been affected by the LRA conflict through counseling, promoting dialogue among returnees and communities, supporting income generation activities of the affected population.
Partnership EH have been supported by: QPSW, United Kingdom UNICEF The Uganda Fund for War Affected Children and Youth In 2007 EH received the Women of the Year Award from GLAMOUR Magazine New York
Program focus The program focus of empowering hands is to make the lives of the returnees and other communities normalized through: • Psychosocial support • Livelihood support • Peace building and • Human rights awareness & advocacy
Magnitude of the challenge An estimated 30,000 children in Uganda were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Amy (LRA) 2. EH is the only NGO that continues to work to support reintegration of formerly abducted people (FAP) 3. EH has reached 1000 former child soldier 4. Amnesty Commission has reintegrated only 5,324 FAP 1.
Current situation of former child soldiers… Some child soldiers still face rejection by own spouse, family and communities because of wrong perceptions (personality, demonic, etc ) 2. Separation of families or members 3. Single parenting and/unwanted children 4. Joblessness due to lack of skills since they were abducted when they were still very young and missed out on education 5. Traumatized because some children were forced to kill while others witnessed killing and other atrocities 1.
…Current situation of former child soldiers 6. Self and imposed stigmatization and name calling such as ‘KONY, OTOTONG, LAKWENA’ by the community because of the wrong perception 7. Child-headed households and increased domestic responsibilities for returnee child soldiers for siblings whose parents died 8. Many child soldiers faced land grabbing or denial from extended families 9. Physical trauma from bullet wounds, diseases, etc remain untreated
Interventions by EH …. •
• • •
Empowering hands has concentrated its effort on five core thematic areas: 1) psychosocial counseling, 2) peace building, 3) human rights promotion, 4) livelihood enhancement and 5) organizational development. Trained FAPs in various livelihood skills including: agri-business, financial management, etc to enable them start a normal life in the community Provision of start-up loan fund on revolving fund basis for IGA (Average $150) Established Peer Support and Community Dialogue Groups in 20 areas of operation at Sub-county levels Conducted peace campaign through radio talk shows, Dance, Drama and Music
…. . Interventions by EH Conduct inter family conflict resolution, dialogue meetings, etc between returnees and communities • Train members in organizational development, computer literacy, etc. •
Project Interventions Provision of oxen and plough to enable FAP scale up subsistence farming to eradicate poverty. Land opening which presents a big challenge to food security of FAPs
CHALLENGES – Funding: lack of attention to the needs of waraffected populations after the conflict is over, resulting in limited outreach to FAP in Northern Uganda – Limited staffing: only two technical staff recruited to manage the implementation of the project activities – Severe trauma: among EH members and in the communities – Low literacy levels of FAP and EHs members – Lack of office equipment’s such as computers, camera, and transport to implement program activities – High demand and expectation from groups we are working with i.e. the Community Dialogue Groups and the Peer Support Groups
The SOLUTIONS • • • •
Fundraising through proposal writing to potential donors Capacity building of EHs members and field staff Documentation of the plight of victims for recognition and support Networking with government and partners in development (ACTTV and AYINET) to support the treatment of victims Economic empowerment through seed capital – loans and grants Follow up of cases for further interventions
BEST PRACTICES Involving FAPs, Local leaders and the communities in the implementation of project activities for follow up & ownership Collaborating with other stakeholders in the identifications of genuine beneficiaries Active participation of EHs members in field work activities Coordinating and reporting to donors
LESSON LEARNT •
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Coordinate / complement our activities according to the government programmes Adapt models according to the concern of the communities especially during emergency period. No one method of dealing with trauma is sufficient but other means such as traditional cleansing, therapeutic counseling are also important and complementary involving returnees in decision making on the issues concerning them was very paramount psychosocial counseling is not a one day thing but should be continuous for complete healing from trauma Hands-on jobs such as tailoring, carpentry and building artisan skills and farming are easily learnt to create jobs for FAPs
Linkages to job creation in Africa Capacity building /training in various skills like vocational, agro business and financial management skills etc. • Provision of technical assistance like collective marketing and networking • An economic development strategy that focus on rebuilding local economies by providing simple financial services for job creation and self employment • Promote self employment in agriculture to benefit food security, economic gains and the community at large •
THE CHALLENGES TO THE JOB CREATION • •
• • • •
Donor funding for development are limited compared to emergency programs Some donor policies do not favor community needs. For instance undue restriction where and how funding should be used Inadequate knowledge and skills in business The government policies towards job creation mostly favors the highly educated and much less the lowliest Environmental factors that do not favor farming e.g. Uganda depends on rain-fed agriculture Inadequate materials and equipment's for agricultural activities and also for the vocational skills like sawing machines and others Limited or restricted markets for the local products
THE SOLUTION The government should develop all other sectors like agricultural, and trade by encouraging labor intensive technology Governments and donors should conduct reliable baseline surveys to identify specific people and community needs • Train and encourage entrepreneur skills and other creativity
THANK YOU AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK GROUP
“It’s important for the young people they help to know they’re not alone—and can have hope.” —Ann M.Veneman, Executive Director, UNICEF