In Central and East Africa, armed forces have abducted and enslaved more than 100,000 children as child soldiers — forced to fight and kill.
Boys and girls as young as 7 are abducted and forced to fight in rebel armies as child soldiers. Psychologically tortured and brainwashed — commanders threaten children at the expense of their own lives. Wielding guns alongside grown militants, youth are forced to commit atrocious acts of violence against their families and communities. Others are abducted and abused, becoming victims of rape and sexual violence. Some are enslaved as spies, messengers, thieves, and more.
Regardless of how a child becomes associated with an armed group or the extent of their involvement, child soldiering is a grave violation of child rights and international humanitarian law that results in extreme suffering and trauma.
Empowering Rescued Child Soldiers and Children Orphaned by War to Become Leaders for Peace Through Art-Focused Trauma Care and Holistic Rehabilitation
When given the resources and opportunity to overcome trauma, young men and women are unstoppable. Equipped with conflict resolution and peacebuilding skills through comprehensive leadership development — these leaders are fiercely pursuing peace and development in nations known for violence.
Art-Focused Trauma Care and Holistic Rehabilitation
Exile's comprehensive, long-term rehabilitative care program targets spiritual, mental, and physical transformation for war-affected children and youth. With a curricula-based treatment model we call the HOPE Initiative — which highlights the creative arts, peace-building, and leadership skills — our programs are 100% locally led by trained counselors and staff.
Healing Spirits: Art-Focused Trauma Care, Discipleship, and Peace Building
Healing Minds: Education, Professional Skills, and Leadership Development
Healing Bodies: Food, Medical Care, and Other Basic Needs
Young men and women also receive mentorship and guidance from local counselors, caregivers, pastors, and other community leaders. These leaders model advocacy for youth — teaching them how to amplify their voices to promote action and spark positive change.
This year — 3,300+ rescued child soldiers and children orphaned by war participate in Exile's programs. Boys and girls who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets or held captive by armed rebel groups now have a safe place to belong, heal, and dream while overcoming PTSD symptoms like panic attacks and nightmares.
Since 2008, over 7,800 lives have been transformed through Exile’s holistic rehabilitative care programs.
The creative arts provide a safe avenue for children to process pain.
When severe trauma disrupts the brain's language center — music, dance, drama, and drawing provide safer alternatives for children to safely share their experiences and express emotions. Expression through creative arts can be especially meaningful for children that do not yet have the words to share the depths of their pain or the weight of their stories.
Incorporate music, dance, drama, and drawing into weekly art-focused trauma care programs provides children with different avenues to share their stories. For many, these expressions of art become the first step on their healing journey and path to discovering hope.
Communicating their stories with caregivers, mentors, and peers helps children rebuild a sense of normalcy and comradery. As children begin to understand that they're not alone in their challenges, they start to believe they can be understood and valued — ideas once lost to extreme physical and emotional traumas.
Exile International deeply values local leadership — understanding that lasting change must begin with committed individuals inside the community who sustain growth over time! That's why we partner with local counselors, caregivers, pastors, teachers, and other community leaders to restore lives and bring hope to war-affected children in their own communities. Trainings in the rehabilitative care, peace-building, and leadership development models utilized further empower local leaders to do just that!
Many peace and healing programs are even led by program graduates who've returned to their villages to bring healing to other war-affected youth! 82% of our programs are led by graduates — rescued child soldiers who are using the same impact model to bring healing to other war-affected youth!
By partnering with local leaders and program graduates in DR Congo and Uganda, we can ensure that all counseling and care practices are culturally appropriate and effective — tailored specifically to meet the needs of war-affected youth in the community.
We have long-term care programs throughout war-affected communities of northern Uganda and eastern D.R. Congo.
Exile Int'l has provided short-term programming in Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Togo, and Haiti — providing caregiver training, art-focused trauma care workshops, and consultations to organizations serving at-risk children.
Exile International is a community of Christ followers seeking justice, restoration, and empowerment for all children — regardless of race, religion, or any other status. The love of Jesus Christ and His example throughout scripture motivate us to respond compassionately to those in need.
Read our statement of faith here:The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Exile International is a 501(c)(3) faith-based, nonprofit organization. Our work is made possible through the financial contributions of individuals, churches, businesses, and foundations. Join us and be a part of restoring lives!