Re·u·ni·fi·ca·tion – the reuniting of rescued child soldiers with their former community.
Reunification is the final checkpoint on Exile’s Roadmap to Healing, and one of the most important steps to healing from the wounds of trauma… But, it’s also one of the most difficult steps.
Most rescued child soldiers never get to return home or are rejected when they do. When these young ones are rejected by their former communities, many times it forces them into desperate situations – living on the streets, joining gangs, or returning to rebel armies. Most would not survive long in any of these situations.
When Exile first started, most communities rejected rescued child soldiers from their villages. It was viewed as similar to welcoming an un-rehabilitated gang member into your own home. But, this is no longer the reality for graduates of EI’s programs. Praise God! Reunification is not an easy process, and our local staff in DR Congo and Uganda are instrumental in making this idea a reality.
Changing the Stigma
To change the stigma surrounding reunification, EI’s staff had to focus on both the rehabilitation of rescued child soldiers and
engaging with local communities. This required working with community leaders to demonstrate the rehabilitation and restoration of EI program graduates, and also to show that, not only would these graduates not be dangerous and problematic to their communities, but they would be leaders, ambassadors for peace, and be able to change their communities for the better! These rescued child soldiers did not only want to return home to their communities… they wanted to make their communities better – paying it forward.
And over time… after years of welcoming these brothers and sisters back home, the communities have seen the power of God in the transformation of these children.
These survivors of war are truly becoming leaders for peace! Their lives – physically, emotionally, and spiritually, are being saved.
We all have our own idea of home. Sometimes it’s a physical house or a hut, sometimes it’s a person, and for some of us it’s just a feeling. However you define home — is there anything better than returning to it after you’ve been away?
Joseph: Reunified Healer and Leader!
Once a rescued child soldier himself, Joseph is leading his community towards peace!
With Christ, time and the skilled care of EI’s care team, Joseph’s wounds mended.