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Last updated: 24 november, 2009 - 18:21 GMT

Uganda's Children of War: A Clean Start

The former Ugandan child soldiers and the cleansing ceremonies which wash away their bad deeds.

Uganda - ex-child soldier

Between 1987 and 2006 in Northern Uganda, 25 000 children were abducted by the Lords Resistance Army - a brutal guerilla insurgency, led by Joseph Kony.

Creeping into villages at night, Kony and his men captured large groups of children.

The insurgents made the children commit horrific atrocities, in some cases even forcing them to murder their parents.

Since peace has been established over 10 000 children have returned home, but this has also brought new problems.

Many of the children who come back are traumatized by their experiences in the bush and are haunted by bad dreams and depressive episodes.

One of the ways the local community deals with this is through ritual cleansing ceremonies.

These are said to purge the children of the bad deeds they committed while acting as soldiers for the LRA.

Locals believe that until they are cleansed the children will be plagued by the spirits of those who were killed.

Outlook's Candida Beveridge went to the cleansing ceremony of one boy, 17 year old Thomas Ongwech, who has only recently returned from captivity.

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Since speaking to Candida, we are told that Thomas Ongwech has shown a marked psychological improvement since the ritual and has stopped having nightmares.

More from Outlook

  • Human interest stories behind the headlines

  • The Ugandan girls rejected by their families after being abducted and abused by insurgents

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