Protecting children from forced recruitment

The United Nations has proclaimed August 30th as the international day for raising awareness against human trafficking and preventing enforced disappearances. Children affected by the armed conflict in Colombia are very vulnerable to being victims of trafficking and enforced disappearance, with the Colombian Institute for Family Wellbeing (ICBF) reporting that 158 children had been recruited by armed groups in 2021 through coercion, threats, and violence. 

Children Change Colombia, alongside CRAN and TDJ, work to prevent forced armed recruitment and reintegrating youth into society through a community based narrative approach towards mental health. Through this project, youth previously in the armed conflict, based in Bogotá and Villavicencio are supported to overcome trauma, stigma, and develop their wellbeing by focusing on their mental health and futures. The goal is to support 200 young people every year of this 3 year program, which began in June 2022, by providing them tools of narrative resignification to overcome the trauma they have experienced. The project also prevents new forced recruitments of children at risk of being linked to criminal activities in rural schools in Meta.

The program includes lessons on managing emotions and psychosocial workshops focused on life skills, as well as positive leadership skills and activities to equip families and communities to create youth-friendly environments in which they can thrive and protect them. 

Children participating in a positive leadership workshop.

Children are also encouraged to create audiovisual material, podcasts, and writing productions to process and express their emotions with others. Former young people involved with the program are also part of the staff, creating a welcoming and understanding environment in which children can share their experiences and relate to one another, building community with their peers. In the first year of this project, 224 Children and Young people, and 127 adults were supported. 

Stay up to date with more about this project by signing up to our mailing list and following our social media channels, which you can find here:

Your support helps us support children to change Colombia. 

Workshop guiding children to connect with their emotions and learn life skills.

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