Every week, children from all around northern Uganda arrive at the Children of War Rehabilitation Center with gunshot wounds, missing limbs, broken bones, and mutilated faces. Most are badly malnourished and sick. All are emotionally traumatized, frightened of how they will be treated, and profoundly confused about Christian faith.
Operated by World Vision, the center's work among former child soldiers is so well known that commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) tell captive children that the center's staff will give them a lethal injection or poison their food.
When children arrive at the center in Gulu, they trust no one. Brainwashed into believing people will kill them for their war crimes, many expect to be executed. Their immense feelings of guilt and shame also cause most to feel unworthy of receiving love in the name of Christ.
World Vision has rehabilitated 11,500 children since the center's inception in 1995. The center has a staff of 40 workers, including 14 counselors on site, another 12 based in outlying areas, 5 community outreach workers, drivers, cooks, and other specialists.
Most children stay in the program from one to three months, during which time they receive medical care, nutritional rehabilitation, psychological counseling, and vocational training. Counselors also present the true message of Christianity. Workers model Christian love and forgiveness in everything they do with the children, slowly showing them how to forgive the unforgivable in others and in themselves. But it takes time. One reason the center succeeds is its groundbreaking work in psychological counseling for children.
Ashley Inselman, a World Vision programs officer, seeks to ensure that the rehab program achieves its goals. "Mental ...