Final report, Grant call 2022

The Children Born of War (CBOW) Project is thrilled to share the final results from the projects selected for the first grant call published in April, 2022. The foundation received an overwhelming number of applications demonstrating the importance and work being done with children born of war globally. After an extensive evaluation process the foundation’s grant team selected 6 projects for one year (October 1, 2022 – September 30, 2023) working towards efforts to combat stigma and exclusion of CBOW, initiatives aimed at knowledge building, and/or activities related to the foundation’s purpose – to promote and safeguard the needs and rights of children born of war. Below we summarize each project and their final results. Mid-term reports were provided by each project and can be found here.

Project: Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Children Born of War in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon

Organization: Global Welfare Association Cameroon (GLOWA)

Country: Cameroon

Aim: In response to the neglect, stigmatization and abuses of children born of a relationship with enemy fighters in the Anglophone conflict, GLOWA was funded the full proposal amount of  USD 8,438.78 to secure the rights of these children to a name and nationality, protect their inheritance rights and reduce stigmatization through outreach community.

Conclusion: The implementation of this project provided the opportunity for GLOWA to research the phenomenon of conflict related sexual violence and children born thereof in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.

Summary: Since the mid-term report this project continued to carry out its programed activities of increasing public knowledge and building alliance for action on the rights of children born of war and strengthening the care environment of these children during the last six months. During this period, 15 young girls were identified and enrolled in the vocational training and livelihood support scheme of the project. The ultimate objective of this activity being to strengthen the care environment of children born of war. The project executed all planned activities with considerable interest in building and sustaining the mother-to-child relationships with the program participants as this was discovered to be deteriorating. Using vocational training and small business development as the appropriate catchment, the project continued to engage and use survivors experiences to raise awareness on conflict related sexual violence, the rights of children born as a result. The commemoration of international collaborations offered additional opportunities for visibility, coalition building and advocacy.

The project registered major successes in advocacy and coalition building. The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) and the Cameroon Human Rights Commission (CHRC) visited and held working sessions with the project team including some survivors. Through the implementation and progression of the project, it was understood that the domain of conflict related sexual violence in Cameroon is such a virgin one, unknown even to many humanitarian actors. Intriguing too is the fact that more than 90% of victims and survivors could not self-identify as victims and subsequently remained silent and suffering in ignorance. With the work GLOWA was able to offer a splinter of hope into many lives and are motivated to continue to do the same for the many others still trapped in conflict related sexual slavery and forced child births.

Project: Providing Economic Empowerment for Children Born of War: YOLRED’s Apprenticeship Program

Organization: Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED)

Country: Uganda

Aim: The proposal from YOLRED was partially funded (USD 2,314.00) to support the development of an apprenticeship program for CBOW in Northern Uganda. Many CBOW in this region remain stigmatized and marginalized in everyday lives, but especially with regards to tangible economic and employment opportunities. This project addressed this directly, and established a model which can be replicated by other organizations in the region, and beyond.

Conclusion: The apprenticeship program was able to empower the apprentice to provide for her basic social amenities and counter the irrational thoughts and stereotypes that people say, “CBOW can never do anything productive.” This is a trans-generational trauma that CBOWs have incurred through their parents while in captivity, however Stella (apprentice) is here as a shining example and is able to support not only herself, but her family as well through this program/project.

Summary: YOLRED is an organisation that supports former child soldiers, child mothers, persons with disabilities, and other war-affected communities to obtain a better future through skills development, capacity building, and training to access information on fair justice, agriculture, land rights, and livelihood opportunities. This pilot apprenticeship project created opportunities for socio economic empowerment, professional development and livelihood training to a child born of war. Activities during the course of the project included training the apprentice in administrative and secretarial work including a two-year training in records and information management leading to a certification from the East African Institute for Management Sciences, providing the apprentice with a salary and benefits, psychosocial counseling and family/home support.

The pilot program derived from this project has been instrumental in being able to empower the apprentice to provide for her own basic social amenities and counter the discrimination and stereotypes held against children born of war. As an administrative assistant, the apprentice has been able to achieve an improvement of communication and interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, decision-making and problem-solving skills, and socio-economic status. The apprentice will sit for her final paper by the Uganda Business Examination Board leading to the award of a National Certificate in Records and Information Systems. This will help her to further her career and empower her to be able to compete favorably with others in this field.

Figure 3 September 2023 Home visit with YOLRED team

Project: Entrepreneurship and Trauma Healing for Children Born of War in Northern Uganda

Organization: Grassroots Reconciliation Group (GRG)

Country: Uganda

Aim: Despite the challenges faced by CBOW, there are little or no interventions targeting these surviving children in northern Uganda. The Grassroots Reconciliation Group, a local non-governmental organization was partially funded (USD 3,834.00) to use holistic, culturally appropriate, and locally designed projects to address the reintegration challenges at community, group, family, and individual levels. Project activities included psychosocial support and community theater.

Conclusion: This project successfully addressed the intricate challenges faced by CBOW in Northern Uganda and made substantial strides in addressing the multifaceted challenges. The comprehensive psychosocial support, community engagement, and entrepreneurship training collectively contributed to improved well-being, reduced stigma, and increased social integration. The success of the project underscores the importance of holistic, community-driven approaches in post-conflict recovery.

Summary: GRG deliberately targeted some of the most vulnerable communities on the remote Uganda-South Sudan border where needs are highest. GRG first conducted a comprehensive needs and trauma assessment in Madi Opei sub county and Madi Opei town council in northern Uganda. 150 children were identified to benefit from the project activities described in the proposal. Activities completed during this project included psychosocial support with anti-stigma training, trauma recovery sessions and training and engagement meetings with peer counselors. In addition, GRG used theatre performances at the community theater as a form of expression which enabled the children to showcase their talents in singing and dancing. Five captivating theatre performances were orchestrated, fostering talent expression and community cohesion. The performances not only reduced stigma by 60% but also acted as a catalyst for community-led initiatives.

Project: News Stories and a Self Help Guide for War Love Child

Organization: War Love Child

Country: Netherlands

Aim: The War Love Child is working towards breaking the taboo around children fathered by Dutch military during their deployment from 1945 to 1949 in the colonial war against Indonesia. This organization was partially funded (USD 1,529.00) to maintain the online site (includes upgrades and modernization) and arrange for long term preservation and access of all content.

Conclusion: This project was able to use the funds to complete the planned activities in order to maintain their online presence and ensure their work continues for their target audience.

Summary: Over the course of the project’s year long duration, the War Love Child worked to update and maintain an online presence. Some of the work included refreshing all missing or changed audio and video-files and URL’s with the possibility of exploring and editing all captures of the website pages such as checking for every tab and corresponding pages, and create saving commands for missing or new pages. Texts, PDF’s, images, links and URL’s of external web resources have all been preserved and are incorporated in the new captures. Having this domain updated with reassurance that it can continue has also helped other collaborations including the KB National Archive of the Netherlands and other Dutch-Indies communities accessing the content. Overall, the project’s completion has allowed a major update to the content that will be sustained for the years to come.

Archival Studies in Denmark and Outreach in Germany

In addition to these applications from organisations, the former leader of the Danish War Child Association and speaker of Born of War International, Arne Øland was supported to conduct archival studies using specific paternity cases stored in the National Archives in Copenhagen, Denmark (USD 665.00). Furthermore, the leader of the association Distelblüten, Winfried Behlau, received funding for the project “Europe’s Hidden Children” (USD 530). The support covered costs to host lectures on children born of war for high school students and in a second event with seniors/adults. Due to the pandemic and personal circumstances these projects are still ongoing and likely to be finalised in 2024.