Helping children recover from conflict

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Colombia has experienced decades of internal conflict between the government and armed groups. This conflict has involved children in different ways. Some have been forced to flee from their homes and communities, whilst others have been recruited as child soldiers. For children who escape these conflict-heavy environments, the effects can last a lifetime. Our Colombian member, Taller de Vida, is working to change that; supporting children to recover from their experiences and become active citizens in their communities.

What is it?

Proyecto Bambú (The Bamboo Project) is a model for working with children who have been affected by Colombia’s armed conflict to help them reintegrate into society. It takes a holistic approach to children’s wellbeing, incorporating therapy, educational activities, creative activities and more to help them overcome the emotional effects of their past trauma.

Why is it important?

The trauma suffered by these children is varied. It likely involves displacement from community or family ties, and may also include situations such as violence, rape, forced pregnancy or abortion, the loss of limbs or other physical injury, and more.

These children have already experienced a traumatic childhood, and without post-trauma care, they are more likely to experience adverse outcomes for their life, such as turning to violence, drugs, sexual violence, a lack of education, or mental health issues.

Proyecto Bambú provides a way for children to better understand, confront, and change their feelings and outlook towards their future. As a result, they are more likely to become fully integrated in society, and to live a happy and healthy future.

How does it work?

Proyecto Bambú is comprised of 30 key learning points structured around key themes such as acceptance, creating meaning in their life, understanding their rights, adapting to new ways of living, developing self-esteem, and dealing with emotions.

Within these themes, the children are also taught skills such as teamwork, conflict resolution, and relating to new people and situations.

The learning points are delivered over various sessions and often use creative arts to encourage self-expression. These include theatre, rap, capoeira, video and photography; delivered with groups of artists who already work with social and political themes.

Proyecto Bambú has been delivered to over 500 children, and also involved their families. It has been supported by War Child Holland, the European Union and the non-profit organisation MADRE.

This model provides a basis for improving the lives of children today, but also in the hope of constructing a brighter future for generations to come. As a holistic model developed to support survivors of conflict, it could also be adapted for other contexts and cultures.

The armed conflict in Colombia continues to this day. Proyecto Bambú continues to support those affected by it, in the hope of a violence-free society in the future.

 

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