For a rescued child soldier enrolled in EI’s care programs, this is what the journey from abduction to healing looks like, step by step.
Step 1: Abduction and Captivity
Children are kidnapped and forced to fight in rebel armies and many are abused and tortured. This usually occurs around age 12 but can occur as young as age 7. Captivity generally lasts for an average of 3 years.
Step 2: Escape or Rescue
Some children are able to escape on their own. Often, rescues are conducted by the United Nations. If these children finally escape or are freed, they are left with deep and lasting emotional scars. This is where Exile enters in…
Step 3: Trauma Healing
This step involves art-focused trauma care, one-on-one counseling, and discipleship. Our goal is holistic rehabilitation for each child, and it all starts here.
“The power seen in these children’s ability to forgive and dream is stronger than the forces of evil that stole their innocence.” -Bethany Haley Williams
Step 4: Education, Peacebuilding, and Conflict Resolution
Through each of these, we focus on developing minds and equipping every child to become a peacemaker.
Step 5: Leadership Development and Mentoring
All programs are led by local leaders and use a leadership curriculum written by a Congolese survivor of war (owing much to the acclaimed teachings of John Maxwell). We are also seeing incredible leadership and mentorship happening through our program graduates!
Step 6: Reunification and Opportunities to Thrive
Established partnerships with local leaders and communities empower each child to establish new lives as leaders for peace and influencers in their communities. These children return to their communities and live as leaders for peace! This is one of the most beautiful and most challenging steps of the journey.