Today, I am going to share information on one of our first partnerships in a post-conflict zone. I first met Jane Ekayu in April 2013. She was traveling in Los Angeles. Scott, Daryl Offer, and I met with her to learn about her work with former child soldiers. Jane was captivating. The stories she shared were powerful and haunting. We all left with a strong feeling that we needed to support her efforts.
Organization: Children of Peace Uganda (CPU)
Location: Lira, Uganda
Context: 66,000 children are thought to have been forcibly recruited into Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) during its two-decade long insurgency in Uganda (1986-2006). Two-thirds of these children were severely beaten, a fifth were forced to kill, and nearly 10% were forced to murder a family member or friend to bind them to the rebel group.
Background: Jane has helped more than 3,000 former child soldiers rebuild their lives. She and her staff of 4 social workers also support children born in captivity, girls kidnapped and raped by soldiers, and orphans from the war.
Current Status: In March 2014, GO approved a $15,800 grant to CPU to provide trauma therapy to child victims of the war. I just received an update on Jane’s progress. With GO’s support, 28 youth were trained to be peace club leaders; they have reached an additional 763 youth through these clubs. The club leaders have helped their peers heal, create positive relationships in the community, and empowered them to make healthy choices. With Jane’s help, these youth are becoming leaders and ambassadors of peace. In addition, the youth leaders have helped their peers defend themselves against attacks to poach their family’s land. Jane shares, “Okabo Moses a former child soldier said, ‘I had always thought of killing my uncles because they thought I was dead and sold all my land, but this topic of forgiveness that [CPU is] teaching, has made me forgive them.’”
Check out the photo of one of the peace clubs.