life after being a child soldier
Historically, children have often been used in conflict and, up until the Middle Ages, most cultures considered them equivalent to small adults. As of 2017, seven countries actively used both boy and girl children for armed fighting. However, countries, governments and armies have heard the many voices that call for the absolution of child soldiers.

Just at the beginning of February 2018, a few hundred child soldiers were released in South Sudan; last year saw the release of over 5,000 child soldiers. While this is a great step towards human justice, life after being a child soldier is still a difficult journey as well. Here are five ways humanitarians and psychologists have found useful for creating a healthy environment post wartime experiences.  

Terminology

Child abductions are easy to classify as victimhood. While this title is true, it is only a small percentage of what the child has experienced. Children who escape their wartime prisons are survivors, and highlighting the importance of words helps shape a new identity in the life after being a child soldier. A victim can bring about a shame mentality and, depending on experiences, create ostracization.

The simple term ‘survivor’ puts an ex-child soldier in a different place in the world and in their own internal self-worth, as the word acknowledges what they have been through, while also underlines their strength. This phrase is much more preferable than than letting the one event — or victimhood — define them.

Check Western Thought

There is an overwhelming support and advocacy in the world for child soldiers. Many countries send people and finances to fight the use of child soldiers. Humanitarian aid can be amazing and overwhelmingly generous, but when the aid dries up (either people leave or funds are allocated elsewhere) it can leave some ex-child soldiers at risk again.

For example, typical Western group therapy can leave children more vulnerable if proper therapy is not continued afterward. Proper therapy can be difficult to follow through when a local solution and resources are not present and/or utilized.

Community

Unstable environments put children at risk for being recruited or abducted into armies in the first place. When a child returns home, studies have shown a community’s acceptance or rejection can be key to the success for a survivor. Utilizing local traditions and ceremonies for the life after being a child soldier cement a child’s place in local society.

Embracing local traditions or customs and incorporating that into a healing process is also a public announcement that the child is welcomed and supported.

Education

Many children are taken away from their home before they have a chance to finish school. Education is important because it brings normalcy back to the survivor’s life as well as prepares them for something other than fighting. Unfortunately, it is not always a perfect system.

A returning 16-year-old may feel shame if he or she needs to return to a 10-year old’s classroom. Fortunately, some towns have been able to create basic classes tailored for an older student.

This is still not completely reproducible as education, in general, is limited, but efforts have been made to create cheap and easy access to more educational opportunities.

Job Skills

Learning job skills is an important part of a survivor becoming successful in life post-war. Apprenticeship can be particularly useful in that it provides an education, community and small funds for food and shelter. Also, apprenticeship is reproducible and available for grown-up ex-child soldiers.

Apprenticeship has not been researched significantly compared to the importance of education or community, but the benefits of a job are acknowledged. Someone who has a skill and is able to provide for themselves and family become a part of society and prevent risk for later recruitment.  

Children in at-risk areas are taken because their lack of fear, they are easy to control, and probably have little to no community support. Children returning home can find themselves in similar circumstances with the added trouble of psychological trauma. Finding ways to assist in lasting support for life after being a child soldier can transform ex-child soldiers into contributing members of society.

A combination of education and community with proper support are the key building blocks to taking back and reinventing the lives that armies stole in the children.

– Natasha Komen

Photo: Flickr

facts about child soldiers
Although improvements have been made to end the use of child soldiers, it is believed that close to 300,000 child soldiers are still being recruited and forced into war across the world today. Child soldiers are children under the age of 18, some even as young as seven years of age, who are used for any purpose in a military or armed group. Child soldiers can act as cooks, messengers, informants, soldiers, suicide bombers or even sex slaves.

Why do people use child soldiers? Armed forces can manipulate children easily, they do not eat very much food, and they do not have to be paid. Soldiers take advantage of this and use children as pawns in their dangerous battles.

 

10 Child Soldier Facts

 

  1. Forty percent of the world’s armed forces use child soldiers.
  2. Though child soldiers are often associated with African conflicts, they have been used throughout history in armies all over the world.
  3. Children who are poor or have little access to education have a higher chance of being forcibly recruited.
  4. Some children choose to enter the military to escape poverty or because they believe they will be offered safety and security by doing so.
  5. Sometimes, as part of their recruitment, child soldiers are forced to kill family members or neighbors to desensitize them and make it so the children cannot go back to their homes and communities.
  6. Children are often used to man checkpoints when there is no active combat taking place. The soldiers will stand several meters back so if anyone starts to fire a weapon, the child soldiers will be the first ones to get hit.
  7. Girl soldiers are often used as “wives” and are sexually abused. Human Rights Watch has reported girl soldiers being impregnated by their commanders and having to fight with their child strapped to their backs.
  8. Child soldiers are known to be fighting in at least 14 countries, including Afghanistan, India, Iraq and Thailand.
  9. If child soldiers are released, they often lack basic survival skills because they were supplied food and shelter in battle. This makes it difficult for them to survive if and when they become free.
  10. When child soldiers are released, many are shunned and given little if any support to reintegrate into their communities. If there is a lack of rehabilitation support, children are frequently recruited back into the military.

These are only a few of the most disturbing facts about child soldiers. Children from all around the world are ripped from their youth and thrown into a merciless world of battle. In order to help these children return to a normal life, UNICEF has established rehabilitation centers in current and former conflict areas. The support these centers provide is crucial to healing former child soldiers and reintegrating them into their communities. This work combined with international pressure to end the practice can make these facts about child soldiers part of the past instead of the present.

– McCall Robison

Photo: Flickr

Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone
From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone was embroiled in a devastating civil war, fought primarily between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Sierra Leone Army (SLA). This civil war garnered international attention for its blatant use of child soldiers and for the skyrocketing of child soldiers in Sierra Leone.

Child soldiers are children (defined under international law as individuals under the age of 18) who are used for any military purpose. In the Sierra Leonean civil war, children made up between 40 and 50 percent of the RUF’s military force and approximately 20 percent of the government’s military force. In total, approximately 10,000 children were exploited and forced to be child soldiers in Sierra Leone. Discussed below are the leading facts about child soldiers in Sierra Leone.

 

Top 10 Facts About Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone

 

  1. The term child soldier does not only include those who carry a gun and fight. Children also served as messengers and porters, and young girls were conscripted into sexual slavery or forcibly married to generals.
  2. Children are chosen to be soldiers because they are easily manipulated. They are more loyal and obedient than adults and they are far less likely to revolt. They also do not require wages, making them a cheap alternative to traditional soldiers.
  3. Children are more likely to become child soldiers if they are poor, living in a combat zone, displaced from their homes, separated from their families or have limited access to education.
  4. The process of reintegrating child soldiers is called Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR). Compounds were created to reintegrate child soldiers in Sierra Leone by providing them with education, food, shelter and psychiatric services.
  5. DDR is not necessarily 100 percent effective. Children may relapse into violence in adolescence and adulthood. Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier in Sierra Leone, said: “One of my greatest fears in Sierra Leone now is, if you have a large number of disgruntled and idle young people who have nothing to do with themselves, you have the possibility of sparking anything.”
  6. DDR camps were also not completely safe. Rebel soldiers would hang around the camps and convince previously demobilized child soldiers to rejoin the army by promising to reunite them with their families or simply threatening to kill everyone else in the camp if they did not comply.
  7. Children were often forced to use drugs (typically marijuana or crack cocaine) to enable them to commit violence. As a result, they had a reputation among civilians for extreme cruelty. Many boys belonged to the infamous Small Boys Unit.
  8. This reputation for violence was one of the key barriers to reintegration. Child soldiers had lost their childhoods and been traumatized, but many could not return home because they were seen as murderers.
  9. In 2013, Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire founded a nonprofit called the Child Soldier Initiative (CSI). It designed a mandatory training manual and seminar for police and local armed forces to inform them of children’s rights and how to handle child soldiers in the field. This training has also been used in Sudan, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, though it is not mandatory there.
  10. The second phase of CSI’s project is to have former child soldiers run the program and train other children on their rights and the alternatives to joining the conflict.

Recent innovations in international human rights law, such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (which has been ratified by more than 110 countries) are a reason to have hope for the future of children in conflict, as are nonprofits like the Child Soldier Initiative.

According to Theresa Betancourt, an expert in the field of child psychology in conflict and child soldiers, “We need to devise lasting systems of care, instead of leaving behind a dust cloud that disappears when the humanitarian actors leave.”

Olivia Bradley

Photo: Flickr

Child RecruitmentThe Democratic Republic of Congo’s national army recently became child-free after being removed from the U.N.’s “list of shame” of armed forces recruiting and using child soldiers. This list details all of the parties in armed conflicts that have “committed serious violations of international humanitarian law against children”.

However, even with their history of abuse and child recruitment, the Congolese army, also known as the FARDC, made considerable progress by releasing 8,546 children from their ranks between 2009 and 2015. The mission was conducted with the help of MONUSCO, the U.N. peacekeeping unit in the country.

Since its creation in 2003, Congo’s national army has experienced a long period of violence and conflicts with multiple Congolese militias. Those conflicts were the scene of several human rights abuses such as sexual abuse, child recruitment and deaths, perpetrated mostly by the FARDC armed forces.

Even though child recruitment has been decreasing, sexual violence against children is still at the top of the list of violations committed by the FARDC. It affects mainly girls, who represent 40 percent of Congo’s child soldiers, according to a MONUSCO report. While some of those girls are forced to join, many of them enlist voluntarily, since being in the army gives them better opportunities than living in neighborhoods prone to poverty and a lack of educational resources.

MONUSCO also revealed that documenting the percentage of girls in armed groups has always been a challenge, as the number of girls is often underreported. Out of the 8,546 freed child soldiers registered by MONUSCO, only 7 percent of girls were documented, which is a radical difference from the 40 percent figure estimated by hundreds of witnesses.

Being delisted by the U.N. is, however, a major win for the Congolese armed forces, whose efforts in stopping child recruitment have led to a positive change towards respecting human rights. Training armed groups on child protection issues and creating standard operating procedures have both helped to free child soldiers and eradicate the practice of child recruitment. Eliminating sexual violence within armies is the U.N.’s next mission to better the lives of thousands of soldiers.

Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr

How Foreign Aid Can Prevent Child Soldier RecruitmentAccording to new numbers released by the United Nations, the number of child soldiers recruited to fight across the Middle East and North Africa has more than doubled in one year, rising from 576 in 2014 to 1,168 in 2015. UNICEF notes that the real number of child soldiers recruited into these conflicts is likely significantly higher, as many cases go undocumented.

The most notable increases were found in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, which have suffered ongoing violence for years. Civilian infrastructure in these areas has been under attack for significant periods of time, eliminating basic services families need to survive. As resources dwindle, families are forced to send children to work in what are often unsafe conditions. Furthermore, ongoing violence creates unrest within communities, making them more vulnerable to radicalization. This is of particular importance for children, as they are less capable of resisting indoctrination by extremists.

Of the 28 million children throughout the region who are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, 90 percent of these live in areas where violence persists. This indicates that a significant population of children are at risk for child soldier recruitment as they live in areas of conflict, lack access to basic necessities and likely do not have the means to gain an education. In many cases, families have elected for their children to join the fight as a measure of protection. While in the past most child soldiers were assigned roles as guards, cooks or similarly inactive roles, recent reports point to minors participating actively in violence.

The case of South Sudan, where the United Nations reports 18,000 child combatants recruited over the past four years, is also alarming. Many former child soldiers report consciously deciding to join the conflict, though they may not have understood what was going on. In an interview with the Guardian, several former child soldiers with the Cobra Faction in South Sudan recalled that their education and standard of living had been poor and local violence inspired them to join the fight. They explained that they were drawn to the rhetoric espoused by the militia, though they did not fully understand its implications.

Rebel commanders in South Sudan have claimed that they are forced into child soldier recruitment and that it is not a voluntary choice. Their logic is that due to the lack of education, infrastructure, food and other key factors, children are left to stagnate. By recruiting them to fight, they are then able “to achieve something better.”

This mindset is precisely why foreign aid is a key tool in stemming the growth of child soldier recruitment. Both the international community and those who participate in child soldier recruitment note that the practice results largely from the lack of education and basic goods and services. Employing foreign assistance to stabilize communities through providing food and clean water and creating the infrastructure necessary for reliable functioning would minimize the opportunities and incentives for indoctrination.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that “terrorism really flourishes in areas of poverty, despair and hopelessness, where people see no future.” Child soldier recruitment flourishes here as well, which is why the use of aid as a preventative measure can prevent increases in child soldiers in the future.

Alena Zafonte
Photo: Flickr

Info About Child Soldiers
According to DoSomething.org, “in the last 15 years, the use of child soldiers has spread to almost every region of the world and every armed conflict. Though it is hardly possible to define an exact number, thousands of children soldiers are illegally serving in armed conflict around the world.”

Here are eight key facts and info about child soldiers:

    1. Currently, there are between 250,000 and 300,000 children soldiers globally.
    2. The recruitment for children starts at the age of 10 and they are used as instruments within wars to execute individuals unreasonably.
    3. A child soldier is any minor, regardless of gender, under the age of 18 who is recruited by a state or non-state armed group and who is used as a fighter, messenger, spy or even for sexual purposes.
    4. “Children are recruited because they are more manageable, more obedient and more easily manipulated than adults. Children are also less conscious of danger, and it is harder for them to see the difference between absence and death,” according to Humanium.

  1. Young people are more likely to get recruited if they come from marginalized communities, are displaced from their houses, live in a combat zone and do not have access to education.
  2. Humanium emphasized that “children who are orphaned, unaccompanied or living in a difficult family environment, see it as a solution to their problems, and taking part in an armed group seems safer than confronting these problems. Revenge, community identity and ideology can also influence children.”
  3. Additionally, armed forces take minors because they are less expensive to recruit and train compared to adults.
  4. “Child soldiers are usually presented as victims of adults, and forced recruitment is more readily emphasized than voluntary engagement,” said Humanium.

There are some extreme cases where children volunteer to become soldiers because it is a better option to the reality they face every day. They see this as an outlet from their current situation.

– Isabella Rolz

Sources: Child Soldiers, Do Something, Humanium
Photo: Flickr

street_children
For the residents of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital and largest city, it is not uncommon to see clusters of unaccompanied children gathering by coffee shops, theaters and restaurants. Often, they carry rags and polish to make quick money cleaning windshields and shining shoes.

These kids are not only just astray from parents, but have made makeshift homes on the inhospitable tarmac of Mogadishu’s dense urban grid. Sadly, the sight of these street children is just an accustomed part of life in the capital.

These children live their lives in tight competition, sometimes lining up in front of mosques 20 strong to scrub shoes for a mere $0.10 a piece at most. Yet, without any main provider, guardian or parent, it is all they can hope for.

In 2008, estimates placed the total amount number of street children at over 5,000. However, in 2011, Somalia experienced its worst famine in over 60 years, which decimated the livestock and the crops of numerous families. This left many parents without their livelihoods or a means of supporting for their children. Consequentially, more kids flocked to the streets in search of money.

Recent estimates have shown that in just three years, the number of street children in Somalia more than doubled; in 2011, 5,000 had expanded to an excess of 11,000.

This total is only predicted to increase.

Ironically, a Somali bill aimed at ending the recruitment of child soldiers is expected to exasperate the problem; often an unfortunate escape route for impoverished youth, child soldiering keeps children off the street.

While helping to eradicate child soldiering, this bill does nothing to provide former child soldiers with support or assistance that could help them assimilate back into their communities. Many inevitably will end up on the streets.

Escaping child soldiering is just one of many causes that lead children to take to the streets. Some street children simply have no other option but to live on the streets. They may have been abandoned by their family or indeed have no family.

Others may have a home to stay in but spend days and some nights in the streets. Often, this is due to overcrowding in the home or sexual and physical mistreatment. Others still may actually live on the streets with their entire family after losing a home to natural disaster, destitution or conflict.

These various children all share one common issue however; they struggle to obtain even the most basic and due rights. According to a UN report, “In reality, children in street situations are deprived of many of their rights – both before and during their time on the streets – and while on the street, they are more likely to be seen as victims or delinquents than as rights holders.”

Unlike other children their age, street children lack access to basic services such as education, healthcare and are more susceptible to prevalent social and health issues. They experience higher rates of STDs, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, and violence, suicide and traffic accidents.

In 2011, UNICEF conducted a study on street children in Ukraine that produced shocking results. More than a fifth had reported using injected drugs and close to two thirds of girls had experience with prostitution. Only a measly 13 percent used condoms in their casual sexual encounters.

These issues require more government and NGO involvement and the implementation of child protection services. Various countries in disparate regions have all found solutions that provide street children with the rights deprived of them.

In Ethiopia, Somalia’s African neighbor, UNICEF has partnered with the country’s police academy in order to train 36,000 officers about children’s rights and protection. Other countries like Brazil, India and Canada have implemented small scale interventions that provide community based support to those on the streets.

Somalia itself has indicated its desire to expand resources for the street children that crowd its capital. Mohamed Abdullahi Hasan, the Somali minister of youth and sports, told Al Jazeera “We are trying to create centers to house these children. But we have no funds. On many occasions we have been promised funds, but we have not yet seen any.” Until Somalia recovers from its national turmoil, it will struggle to improve the lives of its youngest citizens.

Andrew Logan

Sources: Al Jazeera, The Gaurdian, WHO, libdoc.who.int, United Nations
Photo: Flickr

Americans-Can-End-Modern-Slavery-in-Africa
Thousands living in poverty and inhumane conditions are forced into slavery for their survival. Many of the victims are woman and children who flee countries in search of refuge but, instead, are captured by human traffickers and sold into what is known as modern-day slavery.

Many of those who end up in modern slavery rings are fleeing persecution in their native countries. This is a particularly prominent issue in African countries that neighbor South Africa. South Africa is a desired destination for many Africans who suffer from poverty and corruption in other countries. It is on their travels from other nations to safety that they unfortunately get sucked into the horrors of modern slavery in Africa.

Some children are forced into becoming child soldiers, while some, along with women, are sold into sex trafficking. Others are used to provide cheap or unpaid labor in agricultural work, factories or domestic work. The number of people enslaved are staggering, with approximately 193,000 in Ghana and about 762,900 in the Congo.

It is important that, instead of just ignoring modern slavery like many have been, we know the power we have in ending slavery around the world. Modern day slavery has been uncovered everywhere, even in the United States in the last 15 years. Ignoring the horrific acts just won’t do.

How can we not only show that we do not support this atrocity but also want to work towards its end?

Many enslaved people are those who make the products we use every day. This includes agricultural goods, clothes and other items. Many who use slaves use other terminology in order to hide the atrocities. Many people are enslaved to make clothes and products in factories, working for inhumane hours at a time for either very little or even no pay. There are ways for consumers to research quickly online about where their products come from and how those who make the clothing are treated.

Much of this information is provided by advocacy organizations that have dedicated time and research into finding these victims.

There are many organizations that work to find and free enslaved individuals, while also dismantling groups that enslave them. One international organization is “Free the Slaves.” Free the Slaves is an advocacy group that speaks for those throughout the world who have fallen victim to such atrocities.

For more information about how everyone can make a difference and end modern slavery in Africa, go to www.freetheslaves.net.

– Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: Free the Slaves 1, Free the Slaves 2, African Holocaust
Photo: Rita Bay’s Blog

child_soldiers

After decades of unrest and civil war, South Sudan gained its independence from the North in July 2011. This was heralded as a resolution that would hopefully put an end to the ethnic fighting that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands. Unfortunately, the hopeful optimism was short lived, as the South Sudanese government has once again found itself in a state of turmoil. This newest onset of fighting erupted in December of 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused former Vice President Riek Machar of attempting a coup. This has resulted in many rival militias and factions vying for control.

UNICEF estimates that there are approximately 750,000 children who have been displaced, separated or orphaned by the conflict. As over 60 percent of the country is under the age of 18, there has been an increase of recruitment for child soldiers. Despite both Kiir and Machar jointly signed a law prohibiting the use of child soldiers in 2008, all sides have been accused of abusing this rule. Based on UNICEF estimates, there are over 12,000 children fighting for government forces and various other rebel groups. Seeking belonging and protection, these children are often the most susceptible and are in the most danger. Militant groups target children and manipulate them to work in a variety of capacities such as soldiers, messengers and spies.

Much of UNICEF’s current efforts in South Sudan are focused on negotiating with the various factions toward the release of child soldiers. Since January, the Cobra Faction, a rebel militia, has agreed to free almost 2,000 children. It is estimated, however, that this group still holds around 3,000 child soldiers. However, the Cobra Faction is one of many of a multitude of groups, and while this is an instance of success, their reintegration into civilian life presents an entirely new challenge altogether.

The physical destruction and loss of life in South Sudan is substantial. However, a perhaps more discrete damage can also be inflicted, and is especially prevalent among children.

“When one thinks of health needs in a conflict situation – and this applies to children and adults – there is a tendency to think of war injuries… But it’s important to recognize the threat posed by psychosocial trauma,” says Dr Robin Nandy, a Senior Health Advisor for UNICEF.

UNICEF, in collaboration with other nongovernmental organizations, is working to develop reintegration programs. For example, World Vision is working in South Sudan to identify the needs of these children and determine how best to serve them. World Vision finds that there are five crucial aspects of reintegration: safety, skills training, education, basic needs such as shelter, food, and water, and healthcare. An additional component of reintegration is an emotional outlet where children can be heard and tell their story.

In 2014, World Vision conducted 11 discussion groups with 160 children in three different age groups. The age groups were 5-8, 9-13, and 14-18. While the sample size was small, common themes quickly emerged among the interviews. The responses consistently mentioned a return to school, to their families and to a state of normalcy, absent of fear or violence. After committing terrible atrocities, acceptance back into their families and society can be an obstacle.

“When talking about a whole person, you need to address everything a person needs. They need food, counseling, to be accepted back into their community, economic development…” insists World Vision’s Jackson Omona.

Omona is a peace building and protection expert stationed in South Sudan. Between 2003 to 2005, he oversaw the rehabilitation of 1,500 Ugandan children formerly involved with Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. In over two decades, Omona and his team have worked to rehabilitate over 15,000 African children. The combined efforts of UNICEF, World Vision and many other like-minded organizations can hopefully continue to make a similar impact in the volatile new country.

-Frasier Petersen

Sources: Al Jazeera, World Vision 1, BBC, World Health Organization, World Vision 2,
Photo: New York Post

School_Lunch_Program
The World Food Program began a massive school lunch program this past May across the Central African Republic. This week, they began a campaign that aims to battle common intestinal worm infections in children in cooperation with the school lunch program.

Many children in the Central African Republic suffer from intestinal worm infections that affect their health, ability to intake nutrition, mental development and ability to study in school. The program that collaborates with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education aims to improve the health of 250,000 children across the Republic.

One deworming pill is effective for six months. When children are healthy and worm-free, they can both focus in school and study at home more effectively.

The school lunch program that began in early May of 2015 has been very effective so far. Over 155,000 metric tons of food have been distributed. Ninety schools, over 70,000 primary school children and 4,300 elementary school children across the capital of the Central African Republic are currently receiving school lunches.

The meal includes rice, beans, oil and salt. In many cases, this school lunch is the only food children will consume in a day. The food encourages families to value attendance and enrollment in school. It also improves the efficacy of the children’s schooling experience, enabling concentration and enthusiasm.

The school lunch and deworming campaign in the Central African Republic follows political violence, armed conflict and chaos that began in December of 2014. Thousands of people have been killed and almost 1 million have left their homes due to political violence.

The instability and violence caused the majority of schools in the Central African Republic to close, leaving children without access to education. The few schools that remained open were too unsafe for children to attend. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 45 percent of schools are currently still closed in the Central African Republic and 35 percent of the population is food insecure.

According to the U.N., 3,500 to 6,000 children have been recruited as child soldiers in armed groups in the Central African Republic. Parents and many organizations like World Vision are encouraging school attendance in an effort to diminish children’s vulnerability to recruitment.

According to World Vision, Claudia Geraldine, a teacher from Bangui that educates boys and girls from age 5 to age 14 said, “I’m encouraging parents to send children to school now because it is safe.”

The school lunch and deworming programs have so far been successful due to the tenacious, determined, collaborative efforts of local community members along with large organizations. “Everybody plays a part in the process. The head of the school organizes the logistics and mobilizes parents to help. Local women volunteer to prepare the food, and the children fetch water. This is making a real difference in the lives of children in Bangui,” said Fikru Gebeyehu, a World Vision food assistance expert.

– Margaret Anderson

Sources: World Food Programme, World Vision USAID
Photo: World Food Programme,