Sponsoring ex-Child Soldiers
Sponsoring or helping child soldiers
Children who have been abducted into an army are in a particularly difficult position. Even if they are rescued their family may be reluctant to take them back, and the local community may regard ex-child soldiers as targets for attack rather than deserving of sympathy.
As well as running family-tracing services and trauma support for ex-child soldiers, SOS Children puts a lot of work into the process of reconciliation of children returning to their community.
We also have former child soldiers staying with us. However, unlike for victims of a natural disaster where best practice is to encourage children to express their experience, the long-term damage to a child caused by involvement (as a participant perhaps) in atrocities are better dealt with slowly and as a matter of principle we would not cause a child to relive memories which caused distress.
For this reason there are limits to how far a Western sponsor can really participant in the journey of an individual child soldier and understand their life. Your financial help however is very welcome and we need you to support our child soldier and children in conflict programs.
If you simply wish to make the situation of such children better we suggest you sponsor a village in an area of conflict such as Gulu. If you sponsor a child we would not generally tell you about the child's past and whether they participating in child warfare. We have to find some balance between the sponsor's wishes and the needs and rights of a child.
At present there are other charites who offer child sponsorship including several who work in Gulu and other child soldier locations. However, as far as we know these are all charities who use "indirect" child sponsorship, where money spent by the child sponsor is not commensurate with the benefit a sponsored child gets from the charity, so we suspect that sponsoring a village is likely to be as close to help a child soldier directly as it is possible to arrange.