Abdullah was recruited and used by the armed forces as a child. After his release, he was treated differently by his friends and family and faced difficulties controlling his emotions. As a result, he was initially unable to complete his studies, and he had difficulty improving his situation due to stigmatization and trauma. Through reintegration services, Abdullah received counseling and psychosocial support and learned to control his emotions, and gained acceptance and understanding from his friends and family. He is now enrolled in school and raises awareness on the importance of protecting children from recruitment and reintegrating them after their release. Below is a transcribed translation of an interview between him and a case worker.
Caseworker: Hi, Abdullah how are you? I told you that we will have an interview with you today. If it is ok, we will take about 10 minutes, and I will ask you some questions if you approve.
Abdullah: Yes, I approve.
Caseworker: As a child who was recruited in the armed forces and released, how has society (your friends and family) invited you back into the community?
Abdullah: Certainly, it has changed in terms of society, family, neighbors, and friends accepting me back. My neighbours’ children were afraid of me when they saw me. My mother, similarly, was afraid of me, too. She looked at me in fear and terror.
Caseworker: Your mother changed her treatment of you?
Abdullah: Yes, I was nervous and used to hit the old and the young people because of the stigma I was facing from the community. My friends completed their studies, and I did not complete it. I was still in the same level of education, nothing had change. Some of my friends are now studying, and some of them have traveled outside the country. They are all in a place, but I stay in the same place. Society has changed.
Caseworker: What are the activities that help you to overcome this situation?
Abdullah: Through the sessions, I am stronger now. They helped me to learn how to control my feelings and avoid hitting and quarreling and treating others in peace, which also helped me to have confidence in myself and improved my relationship with my family and friends. Psychological support sessions helped me to relax, through abdominal breathing techniques, drawing, writing, and more.
My father and mother attended sessions, and their treatment of me changed in a positive way. They encouraged me to continue my studies. I registered in high school. I was helped and guided to register for courses. I am currently studying and studying in an educational institute. I’m preparing for high school.
Caseworker: Excellent, has the change been impactful?
Abdullah: Yes, very huge change.
Caseworker: Abdullah, your experience as a child and what you went through by joining the armed forces, you are now in the process of reintegration. What are your recommendations and suggestions that you think can benefit others?
Abdullah: I hope there will be more interest in young people, especially children like me who have been liberated and are going back to their community. And that organizations will raise awareness to prevent child recruitment through brochures, job opportunities, vocational education for young people such as sewing, barber, and computer maintenance. I advise young people to stay away from conscription and continue their studies.
Caseworker: Thanks, Abdullah.