Bedo Ki Gen has been established to pick up where foreign aid left off – providing hope in practical ways to people who were abducted and traumatised by the LRA.
The trauma experienced by children of war is intergenerational. Child soldiers typically return to families and communities that reject them, they have often lost family members as well as their childhoods, and they lack education and support. In a country characterised by culture, community and family ties, the rejection experienced by former children soldiers in Uganda impacts not only them, but their children and their children’s children.
So, if we go back to the beginning….
Starting in 1986 in Northern Uganda, a spirt-led militia group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, waged war against the government. They were led by a man called Joseph Kony. Kony and the LRA took an estimated 30,000 were abducted. Both boys and girls were trained and forced to fight in the army, and girls were given to commanders as their wivies/ brides.
When the surviving abucted children eventually returned home, they often found their villages destroyed and their families killed or missing. While some support was made available by the Ugandan government, most of the ongoing support was provided by foreign aid groups and included support such as three months psychological counseling, clothing, and a mattress. But as the conflict wound down, so did the aid and safe spaces like the Children of War Rehabilitation Centre, hospitals for abducted children, schools and associated services, closed down.
About 20,000 former child soldiers passed through the rehabilitation centre set up by World Vision and other providers. They were supported to
- Search for their families
- Assist the children to establish contact first with their parents, and then other family members
- Medical attention
- Drawing therapy – where the former abductees were able to draw pictures explaining their feelings and experiences
- Skills training – for wanting to work
- Schooling – for those who were keen to get an education
- Reunion and reintegration
and most importantly,
- psychological, psychosocial and emotional support.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where war is a constant and aid has to move to meet the most urgent and immediate need. This does not mean though that support does not continue to be needed in countries that are no longer actively ‘at war’. Bedo Ki Gen hope to provide that support to have a profound and lasting impact on former abductees so that they have peace of mind, body and spirit as well as peace more generally.
Founder and Director
Manager and Counsellor