In 2016, we launched a collaborative partnership with the Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP) and the Women’s Advocacy Network (WAN) on a reintegration programme for young women formerly abducted by the LRA.
Learn more about JRP here.
Learn more about WAN here.
The Reintegration Programme provides mediation and reunification support for female LRA returnees and their children with their families and the families of the child’s father in order to foster tolerance, reconciliation and acceptance back into their communities. Many families reject the LRA returnees because of the violence committed by the LRA and many consider the females who returned with children to have brought shame on their families. This programme is a grassroots reconciliation model designed to re-establish trust, forgiveness and acceptance. Pre-visits with the families, family reunification meetings, and facilitated meetings with the clans and elders are core elements to the mediation process.
In addition to mediation, a primary component of this programme is a strategy of child tracing. This involves tracing the family of the father of the children born to women abducted by the LRA. In almost all cases, the children’s fathers are still in the ‘bush’ with the LRA and are most commonly mid-senior level LRA combatants and commanders. This programme assists the young women to trace the family of the child’s father and seek acknowledgement of paternity. This acknowledgement is critical for the child(ren) to be recognized as having status, an identity with the concomitant rights to land, communal affiliations, clan identity and inheritance. In turn these recognitions further support the young women to be able to successfully reintegrate into the community. Recognition as rights-bearing citizens for both the young women and their children is critical to their survival, to rebuilding their lives and assuming new aspirations for their futures.
Community Outreach and Mobilising Leaders
Community radio shows involving female returnees and hosting community dialogues with cultural leaders are key strategies to raise awareness and understanding about the reintegration needs for female returnees, the impact of the stigma, discrimination and marginalization they experience, and the need to foster community acceptance and reunification with their clans. The role of cultural leaders in this process is very important.
The Reintegration Programme will also create an education fund for female returnees to return to school or to engage in a vocational training programme to develop livelihood and income-generating skills; and to assist children of the female returnees who are of school age to be able to attend school. The young women are most concerned about their children being able to attend school and access educational opportunities.
Specific Programme Activities 2017-2019 include:
- Tracing the family of the children’s father- over a three year period we project to assist 120-150 young women and their children to trace their paternal family and receive assistance, support and mediation in the process of family reunification and acceptance by their clans. This process includes both family and clan reconciliation processes.
- Initial family visits to inform the paternal family about the existence of the child(ren) and to assess their receptivity to meeting and recognizing the child and her/his mother.
- Mediation between the paternal family and the mother of the child(ren).
- Reunification meetings between the mother and child with the paternal family and their clans.
- Hosting community dialogues with cultural leaders in different conflict-affected sub-regions to raise their awareness and understanding about the needs and issues for female returnees, the impact of the stigma, discrimination and marginalisation they experience, and the need to foster community acceptance and reunification with their clans.
- Hosting radio shows in different conflict-affected sub-regions to inform the communities of the experiences of young women abducted by the LRA, encourage the communities to be willing to accept and support the returnees, foster communal reconciliation and restore a sense of belonging for the female returnees and their children.
- Creating an education fund- for female returnees to return to school or to engage in a vocational training programme to develop livelihood and income-generating skills; and to assist children of the female returnees who are of school age to be able to attend school.