On a group trip to Congo in June 2008 with ALARM,
Exile International founder and psychologist, Bethany Haley, encountered a darkness she had never seen before:
Child soldiers who asked her to be their mother. Women who attempted to give over their children. Stories of women repeatedly sexually-abused. Children so traumatized they showed no emotion.
A day of visiting many displacement camps led to the realization that people were not only living in geographic exile, but in emotional exile as well.
When the heart encounters such darkness or pain,
the heart wants to look away/hide in order to protect itself.
How then do we fight this temptation to look away?
What our eyes had just seen was big…
but not bigger than us all working together, and certainly not bigger than a great God.
At that moment, the seeds for Exile International were sown.
Thinking this organization may be a small umbrella to provide trauma care to a few communities, Exile International now has active programs led by local counselors in Uganda and DR Congo – providing regular trauma care to over 300 former child soldiers, young girls who have been raped, and war-affected children.
Advocacy: From speaking in Washington D.C. to The Hague, Exile International is actively involved in national and international advocacy work – telling the children’s stories of survival, sharing their drawings of hope and heartache and foster lasting change.