Written by Sydney Johnson
2012 has debatably been one of the most influential years to the end of the civil war in Africa. From the massive awareness of Joseph Kony, to the arrest of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s Major General Ceasar Acellam, these terrorists are finally being sought after on a grander scale, and as a result, more child soldiers are returning home.
That is where Exile International comes into play. EI is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of children affected by the civil war in Congo and Eastern Africa, including rescued child soldiers. In order to carry out the most successful and supportive network of psychological care in these terrorized regions, this organization partners with several other groups who are as committed to seeing recovery as they are.
Exile International describes one of their partner groups, Children of Peace, as, “an African based, holistic model that involves a ten year plan of emotional, educational, psychological rehabilitation, psychosocial training, and advocacy work for the children of Northern Uganda”. EI also helps fund projects for The Peace Lives Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This program uses their funding to emotionally heal boys who have escaped the grasp of the LRA, as well as promotes leadership and peace building skills, in hopes of a better future for the region.
The Dina and Hope Counseling Center are two other therapy programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both of these organizations aim to help girls in this region who have been victims of rape and neglect. The Dina Center works specifically with those orphaned as a result of the turmoil in the DRC.
Village of Hope is Exile International’s partnering orphanage. EI describes this partnership by saying it provides, “trauma care in the form of art and expressive therapy workshops for all of the children, training and consultation with local counselors on the ground who provide weekly group work.” To financially support the rehabilitation of the children at Village of Hope, Exile International sells Harambee jewelry, which is made by the children themselves.
To sum up their vision, Exile International uses what they call a “Three-fold Focus”. The first fold, Action, involves providing the resources and therapy practices necessary for the recovery of children affected by the war in Africa. Their partnerships and counseling programs all fall under this category, where they serve to actually step out and directly make a difference in these lives. The second, Advocacy, serves to, “amplify the voices of those children affected by the war”. Here, they utilize story telling and art as a way not only allow the children to express themselves, but to also share what they have experienced with the world. The third and final fold, Awareness, focuses in on making the war and destruction known by the public. To achieve this, Exile International puts on special events to make known the wars in the DRC, as well as share the artwork done at their rehabilitation facilities.
As the war progresses on, EI is determined to make a positive impact on the lives of those affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Children of all ages are being affected by the war in Africa today, but Exile International is not waiting until tomorrow to help them recover.
We here at Barnabas Clothing Co. admire the courage and boldness of Exile International. They are making an incredible difference to those in Africa.To learn more about Exile International, how you can help, or to check out their online store, visit http://exileinternational.org.