I am Somebody's Child Soldier (IamSCS) is a UK based charity dedicated to empowering former child soldiers and victims of war suffering from post war trauma and financial instability, through supporting sustainable livelihood initiatives, rehabilitation, psychotherapy and raising awareness about the social stigma attached to mental illness across Africa. The charity hopes to help create environments where former child soldiers and victims of war are not haunted by their past experiences.
Our ultimate goal is to be able to open rehabilitation centres to provide on-going psychotherapy for former child soldiers and victims of war across the continent, starting in Northern Uganda and to sponsor sustainable livelihood initiatives that will have a long lasting impact on the lives of former child soldiers, victims of war and their families.
Despite media attention over the years, mental health response has been limited in Northern Uganda. Ovuga’s study, on mental health and child soldiers in Uganda reports, that out of 58 girls and 44 boys, 87.3% of the children reported having experienced ten or more war-related traumatic psychological events; 55.9% of the children suffered from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and 88.2%, symptoms of depressed mood.
Post-traumatic stress disorder among former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) child soldiers in Northern Uganda is still very prevalent. In a recent study by Jan Stochi, at least 6 years after the war, 95% of former child soldiers linked their depression and anxiety to war related experiences. Emilio Ovuga’s report highlights the huge unmet need for psychological services among former child soldiers of the LRA.
IamSCS is currently in the process of building strong community relationships and partnerships in order to launch effective campaigns to help provide rehabilitation and psychotherapy support for former child soldiers and victims of war in Northern Uganda. We are working through an integrated three-part model that addresses the problem in its entirety: immediate psychological needs and counteracting long-term effects of undiagnosed mental illness in communities.
Why is it that child soldiers must flee our African nation to seek treatment for mental ill health as refugees avoiding discrimination because of their past? This is largely due to the social stigma, in Africa, attached to mental ill health and the discrimination experienced by victims of war.
The charity is in constant need of donations to support our field research. To help us reach our goal, please donate and help make a difference