East Africa Update
Our Leadership Team Makes New Alliances and Reaffirms Existing Ones in our Work to End the Use of Child Soldiers in East Africa
This Fall provided ideal timing for our co-founders to shore-up important project work in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
In late September, Travis and Diane journeyed to East Africa for several important regional events – allowing for follow-up to our ongoing child soldier reintegration efforts, while making inroads to support new initiatives.
Along the way, Travis and Diane were able to meet-up with some old friends of the Institute, re-establishing ties with some of the folks who took part in our earliest ‘grassroots partnerships.’
What Took our Leadership Team to Kenya and Rwanda
Beginning with our work in Colombia in 2007, the Goldin Institute has spent several years working on the issue of Child Soldier Reintegration. What started as a National Partnership in that same year to engage Colombia’s social, private and public sector agencies to prevent the victimization of vulnerable young people in armed conflict, has expanded in most recent years to include the ESPERE project throughout Latin America and the successful sharing of the methodology with our newest partners in Eastern Africa.
An Opportunity to Stop the Recruitment and Abduction of Child Combatants
As our work in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda has been focused on helping young people avoid recruitment into violent extremist groups, particularly Al-Shabab, Diane and Travis traveled to Africa for an important opportunity to stop the recruitment (and in some cases abduction) from happening in the first place. This new project has two primary elements – a youth leadership development component named the Youth Peace Ambassadors and the public solidarity element named CRAVE: Community Resistance to Violent Extremism. The Goldin Institute is partnering with an established organization already on the ground, known as Peaceful Innovation. Through this partnership we are focusing on the areas from which local extremist group Al-Shabab has done heavy recruiting – the Mombasa Coast, “slum” areas in Kenya and the refugee and IDP camps in Rwanda. Peaceful Innovation offers the youth who are being targeted by Al-Shabab an effective mixture of counseling, peer groups, and job training with the end goal of reducing the number of viable recruits for Al-Shabab, thus, reducing their size and acts of extreme violence.
The Official Launch of Alone and Frightened – Former Child Soldiers Get to Tell Their Own Story
Over the years, the Goldin Institute has worked with Arigatou International and the Global Network of Religions for Children to research, document, and analyze the experiences and challenges of former child soldiers to develop appropriate programs for their reintegration. The culmination of the research was released in the report Alone and Frightened: Experiential Stories of Former Child Soldiers on Improving Reintegration. While the report was published in 2014, the official launch occurred while Travis and Diane were in Kenya. Our colleague and former Global Associate Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat, was instrumental in both the research done in bringing together the child soldiers to tell their stories in Alone and Frightened and in bringing it to print, so it was fitting that Dr. Kiplagat was so involved in the official launch ceremony. To that end, Dorcas has shared this full report of September’s Events.
We remain encouraged to see that with the expansion of our child soldier work into new regions and with new partners, we get closer to participating in an effort that ends the recruitment of child soldiers. To learn more and become more involved, please follow this link.