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Former child soldiers offered rehabilitation on farm

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Forum in Turtle Ghetto April 2014

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Turtle Ghetto April 2014

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Ramses HUTCHINS, Morrsis MATADI, Cecilia ÖMAN and Brocks POKAI during Program partner meeting in April 2014, at the IDEFOCS office in Monrovia.

(photo Action10 2014)

 

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Since Liberia experienced the 15 years prolongs civil unrest, the chances of chaos, crimes, violence and addictiveness to elicit substance remain a huge challenge for former child soldiers (FCS), women associated with fighting forces (WAFF) and other war affected youths (WAY). Today, vast number of these young men and women are caught up with the use of illicit substance, violence and crime for living. The rapid development of Liberia will continue to remain elusive if we persist to ignore the importance of promoting social change and delivering our young men and women from the spell and addictiveness of psychoactive substances and other immoral practices.

The Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers (IDEFOCS) conducted three Ghetto Outreach Forums, in July and November 2013 and in January 2014, in partnership with Action10. The events took place in Turtle Ghetto, Du Pont Road Ghetto and Kink Grey Ghetto, all in Monrovia, and brought together stake holders and individuals from diverse backgrounds with complex situations, through interactive sessions. The sessions aimed at informing as well as collecting information about the danger of illicit substances, violence and crime. The sessions also included surveys where ghetto boys and girls could explain in which way they would like IDEFOCS and Action10 to facilitating a process where they regain their lives. Eight volunteers of IDEFOCS were placed to survey 20 FCS, WAFF and other war affected youths per forum. During the survey the volunteers  addressed 7 pages with 42 questionss concerning  personal background, recruitment by fighting forces, an assessment on how the DDRR[1] affected the person, current circumstances and current health status.

After these interactive forums, the first 21 century FCS and WAFF surveys were conducted. The surveys were able to ascertain the driving force that will lead the the boys and girls in the ghetto to a new life. The survey thus captured their dreams. It also captured the challenges that the ghetto dwellers face and which makes it impossible for them to change their lives without support from outside the ghetto. Addressing all these challenges now constitute the strategy map for the IDEFOCS-Action10 collaboration program.

The dreams were expressed as:  Everyone in Liberia lives in an environment that enables them to have high quality life. Drugs, violence and crime are not part of their lives. All Liberians lives in a home with their families. They have the training of profession they wish, and they can all read and write. They have employment or run their own business and earn enough to sustain their families. With the funds they earn they can have quality health care and university education if they wish. They are safe in terms of social and physical security. They are all part of the society as equal Liberians.

The mission of this program has thus become to provide trauma counselling, medical treatment, homes, training and employment opportunity for former child soldiers, women associated with fighting and other war affected youth living in the ghetto. The Ghetto dwellers also shared that such support program has to be run outside the ghetto. As long as they live inside the ghetto, any sustainable changes of lifestyles are impossible.

IDEFOCS and Action10 have therefore agreed to procure a piece of land in a peaceful village close to the beach. We will construct a home with twenty rooms and to where  ghetto dwellers can move and were we will provide a rehabilitation program. IDEFOCS and Action10 have also agreed to include the community, which will be the new home or employer for the persons comming out from our program, to ensure a loving and caring environment.

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The target partners

Former Child Soldiers (FCS) FCS are those young people who were under the age 18, got conscripted as fighter either by force, for revenge, pear pressure or any other unconventional means. They are usually uneducated, without skills, and unemployed. They are usually exposed to drugs, crime and violence for living. Many of them have not undergone a unique rehabilitation and reintegration activities since they escaped or were disarmed. They are usually found in large numbers in ghettos.

Women Associated with Fighting Forces (WAFF) Girls and women who were used as sex slaves during the war. Some were used as cooks and wives for rebel fighters and their commanders. Many of them use the ghetto as their home. They were identified by survey through the IDEFOCS Ghetto Outreach Forum on July 31, 2013. Those women must accept to continue the rest of the phases of the program.

War affected youths (WAY)  These are youth who find themselves in the ghetto because of the lack of parental care, pear pressure or extreme poverty.

Ghetto Children. Children whose parents are FCS, WAFF or WAY and who are born in the ghetto. These children are usually exposed to drugs, violence and crimes as well as immoral practices. Also children who, based on the poor relationship between themselves and their parents led the children to move into the ghetto.

Parents outside Ghetto The parents are those who, based on the poor relationship between themselves and their children led the children to move into the ghetto and become involve with drugs, violence and crime for survival.


[1] The Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) program in Liberia began in 2003, and followed the end of the civil war. The program followed from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was brokered by international and regional actors in 2003. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement included a provision requesting that the UN send troops to support the transitional government. This included a mandate to aid in the reconstruction of the country, including the reintegration of former combatants. To this end, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was established in 2003 under UN Security  re-commencement of on15 April 2004, UNICEF is mobilizing resources Council resolution 1509 (UNDDR 2011). UNMIL’s mandate was to demobilize, disarm and provide training and reintegration support to former soldiers for the two main factions, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), as well as the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). This included women and children.

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