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Active 2012-Present

Program remains active under the ownership of our partners at Invisible Children Uganda.

Although the Lord’s Resistance Army left Uganda in 2006, the LRA continues to abduct children, forcing the girls to become wives to army commanders and the boys to become soldiers. They are forced to witness and perpetrate terrible war crimes. Given that Kony’s rebel army uses brainwashing tactics to instill fear and obedience in those kidnapped, and that Ugandan abductees have been with the LRA for an average of 11 years, escapees need extensive help to recover from the physical and emotional trauma of war. In many cases, those who escape from the LRA also need practical help to trace and be reunited with their families and communities across northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan.

About the Uganda Program

Invisible Children partners with World Vision Uganda by funding the Children of War Rehabilitation Center in northern Uganda. The center provides psychosocial support to returnees of the LRA conflict, documents records of returnees and aids in their reintegration process. An essential function of the center is to reunite and follow up with families during the joyful but challenging return home of former abductees. Moving forward, part of this process will ensure that returnees, their families and communities have access to our education and economic development programs such as Village Savings and Loans Associations and Functional Adult Literacy. Our comprehensive approach ensures that those who escape the LRA are able to have a purpose-filled life away from the battlefield.

The mobility of the LRA means that those who escape are often thousands of miles from home, across international borders. Invisible Children’s family tracing team spearheads efforts to reunite LRA returnees with their families. Based in Gulu in northern Uganda, our team uses information provided by recent returnees to map each individual’s family history and location. Often with minimal details, the team reaches out to communities for help to physically locate the families. They then meet with the families to assist them in preparing for their child’s return home. In addition to gathering information about the escapees’ family members and their well being, the family tracing team records ‘come home’ messages from family members and returnees to be broadcast in LRA-affected regions to encourage more defections.

The Children of War Rehabilitation Center has been at the center of many LRA defectors’ efforts to start a new life. The center provides the guidance, counseling and trainings needed to support the productivity and social integration of returned LRA combatants.

At the peak of the LRA conflict, the rehabilitation center facilitated the recovery of over 18,000 young people.  Today, the small  stream of returnees who are welcomed at the center reflects the LRA’s weakened capacity and gives hope that this conflict will soon come to an end once and for all.

About the Democratic Republic of Congo program

Invisible Children partnered with Congolese leaders and international rehabilitation experts, including The Commission Diocésaine Justice et Paix (CDJP) and Sponsoring Children Uganda, to establish Centre Elikya in Dungu, DR Congo. Centre Elikya is currently not operational. It was the region’s first rehabilitation center for children affected by the LRA.

The program was run by professionally-trained Congolese rehabilitation specialists and equipped to serve up to 150 children at any given time. It was designed to serve children for six-months before they are reunited with their families, preparing children for successful reintegration into society by seeking to restore their mental health, equipping them to return to school, or, if beyond school age, helping them develop a marketable skill that can be used in the workplace. Most of the activities were focused on teaching children to cope with and understand their trauma. Since its inception in May 2012, Centre Elikya has hosted 200 LRA-affected children from DR Congo in rehabilitation and reintegration programs. Our partners at CDJP have made sure to follow up with the children once they have returned home, with the help of trained Congolese psychosocial support agents.

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