Assignment 4
Case Study 2: Rehabilitation and Reintegration

Discuss psychosocial factors that might affect this child

Over the past two years, Susan (15 year of age) has suffered a wide range of traumatic events that could potentially affect her psychosocial development. Since the start of the conflict she was separated at least three times from an environment she was accustomed to: first when she was forced to flee her home and move to a refugee camp; again, two years later when she was kidnapped by the rebels; and finally when she was ‘rescued’ by the military. These events most likely affected her emotionally and had a strong impact on her ability to trust people around her, plan for the future and recover from the traumas of war. In addition to the constant uprooting Susan suffered, she was also the victim of direct physical and emotional violence, including kidnapping, rape, and excessive physical effort (carrying heavy loads, cooking…). Thirdly, during her stay in the bush she was the victim of two highly traumatic events – being forced to participate in her cousin’s murder and being forced to become the wife of one the rebels (a marriage that resulted in a pregnancy). Finally these events all occurred in a highly destabilizing environment where Susan was forced to witness death and suffering on a regular basis without having the means to escape.

Develop a Plan of action for the social reintegration and rehabilitation of this child
As a first step the program will need to establish whether or not Susan’s family is still (a) alive; and (b) in the refugee camp or back in the village. These elements will be crucial to choose how best to help Susan.

If her family is alive and back in the village, the program will need to get a better understanding of the context. Is the village isolated or near a big urban center? Was the area directly affected by the conflict? Are their ethnic tensions in the village? Are the schools functioning? Are there many other CAFF in the region? Is our NGO already working there? Are their other NGOs working there? Is the area safe, …

If the area is sufficiently safe for Susan to return we will need to run a similar assessment of her family context. Key questions include: is her family willing to get her back? Will her involvement in the killing of her cousin have an impact on how the family and village will treat her? How will they react to her having a child? What is the economic situation of her family? …

Once all these initial assessments are carried out the program will be able to set up interventions to help Susan return home. Although the activities carried out will highly depend on the context here are some of the general activities that might be considered:

· Skills training / income generation – In addition to helping Susan and her family survive financially this might also increase the willingness of her
family to take her back (she becomes an asset rather than a financial liability for the family)
· Life skills training, in particular with regards to child care.
· Schooling – Ideally we would try to find a program that fits her age group and need for flexibility. Also the presence of other complementary
programs such as child-care for her baby and school meals would be extremely useful as they might help her stay in school despite her potential
financial constraints.
· General youth activities to increase socialization / reintegration with peers. This could include VSLA activities, sports and other group activities
where she would be in contact with other former CAFF but also a wide range of other community members.
· Finally, and if financially possible, direct assistance to help her cope with the psychological impact of the conflict. This should be done in a way
that is culturally appropriate and financially viable in the medium to long run. It should also pay particular attention to the link between Susan
and her baby (reminder of trauma, ambiguous feeling towards the child…)

All these activities will need to be monitored closely and over several years. They will also need to pay attention to the needs of the community as a whole in order to avoid stigmatizing Susan even further.

What do you suspect might be the problems / pitfalls of this plan

There are many pitfalls and problems that may hinder the reintegration of Susan. The most pressing issue is the overall security context and the presence / absence of her family in the village. Although the war seems over it is unclear if her village is accessible, if it even still exists, if her family has returned, … if these elements are not in place we might have to put her back into another temporary situation, which would not be ideal for reintegration process.

Another sets of concerns are related to her family and village. Her situation is extremely difficult and the risk of stigma is really high. She killed her cousin, lived with the enemy and has a child. All these elements might affect her ability to find a new husband, get accepted by her community and even live safely in her village.

On a personal level, Susan seems eager to go home. However over time she risks to realize that her relationship with her family has changed. She is now no longer a child but the mother of a baby. She has also lived in a highly promiscuous environment that might be highly different from the traditional values her parents believe in. All these elements might complicate the reintegration process and the emotional connection Susan has with her parents. In addition, Susan might also be reluctant to come forward as a CAFF and participate in the activities we offer. She might fear further stigma if she is singled out as having lived with a rebel.

Finally the program itself might also suffer a wide range of logistical problems including financing, delays in implementation and inability to find qualified staff. The fact that programs are often limited to one or two years might also affect the ability of the program to offer long-term psychological support or follow –up on the reintegration process of Susan.

How might you alleviate these problems / pitfalls

In order to minimize the risk of failed reintegration the program needs to ensure that Susan’s situation is well understood by her family. By explaining clearly what will happen and the type of issues that might arise in the future the program might be able to minimize the risk of rejection.

A similar approach can be used with regards to the community, for example, if culturally appropriate through the provision of cleansing rituals or other community-wide activities during which Susan can be “re-accepted” by the community.

If the context is different and publicly highlighting the problem is not a good option the program should make an effort to avoid isolating Susan by either providing community wide support or target the program slightly differently, for example by highlighting the financial vulnerability component. As a result Susan might be more likely to join and might suffer less stigma than if the NGO provides her assistance due to her CAFF status.

If the program faces a situation whereby returning Susan to her family is not an option, we might consider helping her integrate a group home where several young people live together and receive assistance.

Finally, and regardless of the problems faced by Susan, it is essential that our program coordinates with other existing actors in the area. It is highly unlikely that we will be able to deliver directly all the assistance Susan needs and we should do our best to ensure that programs across all sectors are sensitive to the needs of former child soldiers. This involves both high-level advocacy and local coordination.