Owa was helping his grandfather on their family farm

Abducted by an armed group and forced to fight in a violent war as a child: Owa is released and overcoming his trauma through World Vision’s rehabilitation programme.

Owa was helping his grandfather on their family farm. “I asked Owa to go fetch some firewood. Information reached me that my grandson was taken,” said Owa’s grandfather.

Owa was just a child when he was abducted from the safety of his home and forced to become a child soldier; “I have seen people be killed. People are being killed just like [they’re] nothing,” said Owa. He was forced to murder, steal, and abduct other children. If he’d refused, he would have been killed.

South Sudan has had a long, shameful history of using child combatants in their civil wars. In 2018, South Sudan’s leaders signed an international treaty committing to end the recruitment of child soldiers. However, the UN estimates that 19,000 boys and girls are still involved in armed groups.

In July 2018, Owa was finally released by the armed group. His exposure to violence led to the development of trauma-related disorders causing him to become aggressive. Our rehabilitation and reintegration programme is helping Owa to recover and become a child again.

Today, he’s enrolled in the Tindoka Vocational Training Centre where he is receiving electrical installations training. “The Vocational Centre even changed my brain now. It will change my life. It will give me a better future,” says Owa.

The Centre is a government facility run with the support of World Vision and UNICEF, and enables children released from armed groups to learn skills in carpentry, electrics, building and tailoring.

Owa and his grandfather work on their family farm.

Owa and his grandfather work on their family farm.