Save the Children: Giving Hope to children associated with armed groups and forces in Central Darfur, Sudan.

Wednesday 29 July 2020
From Family Separation, Displacement, Association with Armed Groups and Forces, and going back to School.
*Ahmed, from Central Darfur was living happily with his family before joining an armed group at just age 13. Going to school in the morning, studying religion in a Qura’anic school (Khalwa) in the afternoon, helping his father on his farmland and playing with his peers in the evening. This life seemed very normal until all over a sudden a ruthless war erupted in the area, in which thousands of people were killed, families separated and thousands of men, women and children forced to flee their homes ending up in internally displaced camps, never to see their families again.
When the war started, I was playing with my friends in the street, suddenly people started running around, women were screaming, and guns shooting all over the place, a lot of people were killed, I also started running around with other people, but I didn’t know why people were running! until we arrived at a place that I was told is a camp for internally-displaced people. I was just thinking and looking for my family, but could not find any of them there, it was a devastating moment for me,”said *Ahmed.
Ahmed, spent years and years in the IDP camp, until one day, someone convinced him to join one of the armed groups. He found the idea tempting and immediately, without hesitation, Ahmed voluntarily joined the armed group.
“I was so angry and lost, I thought it would be a great thing to have a gun, and take revenge”said *Ahmed.
As soon as he joined the armed group training camp, Ahmed was shocked by the cruelty of the military training and the way children are treated and the abuse that they have to face. He decided not to continue but it was also not an easy to escape.
“There are so many children of different ages in the armed group training camp. Some of them managed to escaped while a few of them died as a result of the harshness of the training. In other cases, some children were caught while trying to escape and had to face disciplinary punishment. It is literally a hell place,” described *Ahmed.
Ahmed eventually managed to escape. At 17-years of age now, moved back to Rokero, the village he was forced to flee. Save the Children was providing humanitarian assistance in the area. Upon his return, Ahmed and number of other children who had joined the armed group were immediately introduced to a Psychological First Aid program, and Rapid Psychological Intervention by Child Protection Team. Soon after the team carried out Family Tracing and Reunification(FTR) exercise reuniting Ahmed with his family.
“It was the most touching moment in my life seeing my family again! I thought I would never see them again. Thanks to Save the Children’s efforts, I am really happy” said *Ahmed.
Although Ahmed was reunited with his family, life was not easy for him. His father was not strong enough to work and provide for Ahmed and his family. Therefore, Ahmed had to look for a way to help his family and also find a way to go back to school because he wants to become an engineer. Ahmed, with Save the Children’s support, is now running a mini-shop selling small items and is also able to go back to school.
Save the Children, with financial support from Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) - is helping children like Ahmed in Rokero and the other parts of Central Darfur, through a range of interventions, such as: psychological intervention, social reintegration, and life skills training; which Ahmed received along with dozens of children in the area. Currently, Save the Children, through the project, is providing assistance and care for number of 125 unaccompanied and separated children in Central Darfur.
*Name changed for protection of identity