Child Soldiers in Sudan
"Thousands of child soldiers are now running in South Sudan anxious for their future - (wishing) to trade their guns for games, their bombs for books and their hurt for hope" says Mr Ali Mahdi, National Director of SOS Children's Villages Sudan.
During the civil war, young children were snatched from their families at the height of the fighting and used as soldiers. Today, many have been dismissed from duty, and even though the killing is over, the impact of war remains fresh in their minds. They are lost, scared and cannot find their parents. SOS Children set up an Emergency Relief programme to support these child soldiers, many of whom are now young adults, and give them back their lives and their families.
To begin with, the children are reintroduced to everyday life. SOS Children provide them with shelter, food, clean clothes and an education. Many children have never been to school and without an education will never break out of poverty. SOS Children help them overcome the trauma of war through drawing, drama classes and counselling, being able to express their feelings eases their pain. To help them develop teamwork skills and make friends, they have helped to build the houses they live in while on the programme.
Some children have already been reunited with their family members and others are being supported to be reintegrated into their home communities.
The young people - mostly boys, but some girls - are now undertaking vocational courses including car mechanics, carpentry, electrics, plumbing, construction and sewing at the SOS training centre, or have been enrolled at school. One of the older former child soldiers has just entered university.
With support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), SOS Children have been able to reunite families with a very high success rate; over 90% in certain years.
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