Children for Tomorrow is engaged in a new project in Uganda. An ambulance for children of the country, especially for tens of thousands who live in refugee camps, is being opened to give therapeutic aid.
Over 2,5 million children live in North Uganda without ever having experienced a time when their country was not at war. Approximately 25,000 among them were forcibly recruited as soldiers or forced into prostitution. According to a Children for Tomorrow study, where 330 former child soldiers were interviewed, children were abducted at the average age of 10 and a half and were forced by the rebels to work as soldiers for up to 9 years.
These children report truly incredible experiences of violence. 88% had to witness killings of people, 79% even witnessed massacres. Many underwent torture, rape and violent marches with heavy loads for days. Often time the children turned from being victims to creating their own victims as 53% of them say to have killed other people.
After de-escalation, it is quite difficult for these young soldiers to find their way back into the civil society. Due to the consequences of war, 43% of these children orphaned and the potential for them to drift back into the lives of violence they have always known is ever present. The children show severe symptoms of psychogical trauma. They tell of stomach aches and headaches, of nightmares, depressions and feelings of guilt. 72% exhibit deep psychological pain that needs to be treated.
Until the foundation of the Children for Tomorrow ambulance in Gulu in the summer of 2009 there was no existent care for children and adolescents and no long-term psychotherapeutic offerings in North Uganda. In our ambulance we employ psychiatrists and psychologists from North Uganda, who offer psychotherapy for individuals and in group settings. The ambulance is the basis of the project, which has outreach-programs for internally displaced persons. The project builds on long-standing concepts and experience that were made during the psychotherapeutic work in other foundation projects in Africa.