A19. Reintegration of former child soldiers in Liberia
Since Liberia experienced the 15 years prolongs civil unrest, the chances of chaos, crimes, violence and addictiveness to elicit substance remain a huge challenge for former child soldiers (FCS), women associated with fighting forces (WAFF) and other war affected youths (WAY). Today, vast number of these young men and women are caught up with the use of illicit substance, violence and crime for living. The rapid development of Liberia will continue to remain elusive if we persist to ignore the importance of promoting social change and relieving our young men and women from illicit substances and other immoral practices.
The Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers (IDEFOCS) conducted three Ghetto Outreach Forums, in July and November 2013 and in January 2014, in partnership with Action10 – HR&S. The events took place in Turtle Ghetto, Du Pont Road Ghetto and Kink Grey Ghetto, all in Monrovia, and brought together stake holders and individuals from diverse backgrounds with complex situations, through interactive sessions. The sessions aimed at informing about the danger of illicit substances, violence and crime as well as collecting information. The sessions also included surveys where ghetto boys and girls could explain in which way they would like support with facilitating a process where they regain their lives. Eight volunteers of IDEFOCS were placed to survey 20 FCS, WAFF and other war affected youths per forum. During the survey the volunteers addressed 7 pages with 42 questions concerning personal background, recruitment by fighting forces, an assessment on how the Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) programme in Liberia which began in 2003 after the end of the civil war affected the person, current circumstances and current health status.
After these interactive forums, the first 21 century FCS and WAFF surveys were conducted. The surveys were able to ascertain the driving force that will lead the boys and girls in the ghetto to a new life. The survey thus captured their dreams. It also captured the challenges that the ghetto dwellers face and which makes it impossible for them to change their lives without support from outside the ghetto. Addressing all these challenges now constitute the strategy map for the IDEFOCS- HR&S-Action10 collaboration programme. The dreams were expressed as: Everyone in Liberia lives in an environment that enables them to have high quality life. Drugs, violence and crime are not part of their lives. All Liberians lives in a home with their families. They have the training of profession they wish, and they can all read and write. They have employment or run their own business and earn enough to sustain their families. With the funds they earn they can have quality health care and university education if they wish. They are safe in terms of social and physical security. They are all part of the society as equal Liberians.
The mission of this programme has thus become to provide trauma counselling, medical treatment, homes, training and employment opportunity for former child soldiers, women associated with fighting and other war affected youth living in the ghetto. The Ghetto dwellers also shared that such support programme has to be offered outside the ghetto. As long as they live inside the ghetto, any sustainable changes of lifestyles are impossible.
The control is the situation among Former child soldiers at the macro level.
Output & Outcome
IDEFOCS and Action10-HR&S have procured a piece of land in a peaceful village by the sea, the Little Bassa, one-hour drive from Monrovia. This site is the location for our “Re-integration of former child soldiers’ programme. IDEFOCS has cleared the land from trees, dug a water well, planted cassava and constructed a home where ghetto dwellers can stay and benefit from a rehabilitation programme. IDEFOCS has also included the community of Little Bassa, to ensure a loving and caring environment. The home shall eventually have twenty rooms, and those coming out from the programme shall find employment and a home of their own.
Description of IDEFOCS Team
At the time of starting the collaboration with Action10-HR&S, May 2013.
We are a group of former child soldiers from difference fighting groups in Liberia but dedicated to one goal: four male former child soldiers and three women associated with fighting.
Impact we have made so far
Since the establishment of IDEFOCS, we have rehabilitated and reintegrated 3000+ and provided with jobs opportunities both in Ghana and Liberia, presently we are working with 100 of them.
Why are we doing this?
We are doing this because; – We are victims of war and do not want other children to be mismanagement like how they did us in past. – To create a safe and an enabling environment for our future generation. – We want to be an example for former child soldiers to have the confidence to make a comeback in our society. -We feel we are the right people to do this because we are part of this community.
What IDEFOCS wants to do
IDEFOCS wants to build a vocational and technical institution called the Botanical Reintegration Village (BRV) – where Former Child Soldiers can find a safe haven, support and work – and through this we make a bigger impact which benefits both them and the whole society. The BRV is going to collaborate with Government, NGOs and other institutions and we will request trainers for the BRV institution.
What opportunities will the BRV give to both former child soldiers and the society?
– The BRV will be able to host 200 – 300 FCS for six months and give them all the necessary skills they need. – The BRV will give IDEFOCS the opportunity to monitor these FCS and to continue their training.
– The BRV will create a good training and learning environment for both former child soldiers, national and international trainers. – The BRV will provide the opportunity for IDEFOCS to reduce violence in our Communities; stop the re-recruitment of FCS; help to work towards the goal to stop the migration of war in West Africa; and it will promote peace and security. – More importantly, the BRV will provide the opportunity for IDEFOCS to place those FCS in to the Post Reintegration Investment (PRI) according to their skills they had learned. This will grow our impact with income revenue for sustainability.
What danger will the society have if this institution is not build?
– The increment of crime and violence. – Promote the re-recruitment of former child soldiers in ghetto communities. – Promote the migration of war in West Africa.
– Former child soldiers with invaluable experience as former child soldiers managing the programme. – Huge membership of former child soldiers. – Wide range of developmental training programmes to give varying skills training to former child soldiers. – Established organization structure and offices. – Large volunteers network (both local and international). – Good working relationship with the Liberian Government.
– Lack of funding for internal capacity building. – Inadequate funding to enable us to scale-up our programme country -wide. – Lack of capital office and logistics/equipment for every staff to use.
– Huge membership of former child soldiers waiting to be trained. – Competent and committed management that is ready to scale-up and run the programme efficiently once funding is sourced. – Government has approved our proposed new programmes for former child soldiers (legal registration). – Opportunity to have an adequate member of trainers and counsellors for former child soldier through our large volunteers network.
– Inadequate funding will result into lot of former child soldiers not being rehabilitate and reintegrated and therefore rick their going back to war, creating more harm to the communities. – Possible reoccurrence/break out of war. – Possible re-recruitment of former child soldier in ghetto communities for new conflict around West Africa. – Increase the migration of war in West Africa.