Children from poor and disadvantaged families are especially vulnerable to exploitation in war. In the last 15 years, it is estimated that 10,000 children have been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) around Gulu, in northern Uganda, alone. Children are deliberately targeted as they are manipulated more easily than adults and can be indoctrinated to perform crimes and atrocities without asking questions.
Following the end of a war, the trauma child soldiers have experienced leaves them scarred for life. In post-war communities, where resources are scarce and provisions poor, they are unable to have their needs met and many end up living on the streets.
How SOS Children are helping
SOS Children works across the world to help all children experience their childhood. We support former child soldiers by welcoming them into families at our SOS Children’s Villages, providing psychological and trauma support, and by running community projects to address their needs.
Examples of our projects include:
Sierra Leone: Thousands of children became child soldiers during the Sierra Leone conflict which ended in 2002. To meet the long term needs of children, many of them former child soldiers, we opened a third SOS Children’s Village in Makenim, in central Sierra Leone.
Watch a video about a former child soldier who was abducted by rebels in Sierra Leone at just nine years old. He tells how he fought with them for six months and how SOS Children helped him turn his life around by providing him with an education and helping him become independent.
- Uganda: Recent media attention has focused on Joseph Kony and the use of child soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. In addition to providing many former child soldiers with a safe home and a caring mother in our four SOS Children’s Villages here, we also run SOS Social Centres where staff work to prevent children from being left alone and vulnerable to becoming child soldiers in the first instance.
- Sudan: SOS Children are providing former child soldiers with medical check-ups, food, clothes, shelter and psychological therapy in the community in Sudan. In addition, SOS Children are tracing the families of child soldiers reuniting them with their long lost families.
- Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): During the 2008 conflict in DRC children as young as nine were coerced into becoming child soldiers. Many former child soldiers came to live at our SOS Villages here and were given the support they needed to recover from their traumatic experiences.
- Rwanda: The genocide in Rwanda had a massive and lasting impact on children, many of whom were recruited as child soldiers. SOS Children have provided a home for former child soldiers in our Villages here, and have given them the opportunity to return to school.
Support former child soldiers
For privacy reasons, we are unable to reveal which children living in our SOS Children’s Villages are former child soldiers. However, if you sponsor a Children’s Village in a country in an area where conflict has involved child soldiers, your generous contributions will help to support our projects giving former child soldiers their childhoods back.