Former Child Soldiers
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Conducted research on the intergenerational stress and resilience of children formerly associated with fighting forces and their children in Burundi, assisted in the development of mental health policy in Liberia, and explored informal systems of healing/care for former child soldiers in Sierra Leone.
For many years, I worked with former child soldiers (ex-child combatants) in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Burundi. I was interested in what happens to former child soldiers when they grow up and have children of their own. How does one know how to parent if (s)he was in a rebel group for the duration of a decade long war? How do the children fare?
“We were more facile with an AK-47 than with a pencil. Now what am I supposed to do?” - 27 year old former child soldier, Burundi
Please refer to the About Me section for relevant publications/writing.
After enduring multiple civil wars which included the conscription of children in the armed forces, Liberia lost about 250,000 to violence and is now rebuilding. I was on a team of policy advisers with Harvard/Massachusetts General, to the Minister of Health, to build a Mental Health Policy for the country.
One of the poorest countries in the world, Sierra Leone, continues to re-build post-war. Poverty and corruption continue to influence the demise of the health systems. I explored the informal systems of healing/care for former child soldiers and vulnerable populations (survivors of sexual violence, trafficked children and orphans).