Are donations to Xslaves.org tax-deductible?
Yes! Xslaves.org is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Simply provide the donation receipt to your tax advisor or accountant.
How will my donation dollars be used?
Your contributions will be used directly to develop and implement educational, vocational training, and economic assistance programs designed to achieve successful reintegration and self-sufficiency. All funds raised for our immediate campaign will go directly toward building the Vocational Training Workshop for Friends of Orphans.
What is "Child Soldiering?"
Child soldiering is the systemic abduction, coercion, recruitment and use of children as combatants and in other abusive combat-related roles into which children are forced or coerced, including as “recruiters” of other children as soldiers, to kill, rape, maim, intimidate and torture, or serve as cheap or unpaid servitude, and/or as sex slaves to military or paramilitary forces. It also refers to government, rebel group, mercenary and private military contractor abduction, recruitment and conscription of children as soldiers and servants in declared or undeclared wars or conflict.
Who Becomes Victims of Child Soldiering?
Children who come from poor communities, largely uneducated and dealing with survival issues, are the most likely to become child soldiers.Children usually become soldiers through abduction or coercion or through mandatory conscription or forced recruitment. Children and youth from indigenous rural populations are especially at risk. Others join to accompany an older family member, or are encouraged to join by family members as a source of income or protection.
For some children, joining a military organization provides a sense of security, as it takes care of immediate survival needs and bestows a sense of identity. In some instances, children join liberation struggles, such as during the Freedom Struggle in apartheid South Africa, or to counter a threat to a group or nation. Political and religious ideologies also motivate some children to join military organizations. Governments also conscript children as part of its national military force.
What is the context of people’s and children’s lives in Uganda?
A 21-year war in Northern Uganda has killed many thousands of civilians, including several raids. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), composed of children and youth, most of whom are abducted from Northern Uganda, is based in Sudan, and is pledged to overthrow the Ugandan government. Hundreds of thousands of children have been affected by conflict; many are now orphans and many are HIV positive. Most have not been able to finish their education. All of this is in a context of severe economic deprivation, reduced farming and few jobs.
What are the needs of children and families in Uganda?
As with all children who have endured long-term trauma and holocaust-like conditions, children need a range of rehabilitative and restorative services - counseling and clinical, family and community influences, literacy, education and skills, job creation, health services, including HIV/AIDS treatment and services, community building, local and regional peace building, and the creation of a culture that understands, respects and enforces human rights and children’s rights, including attention to domestic violence against women and children.
How are these needs being addressed by Friend of Orphans?
Friends of Orphans was founded by former LRA child soldiers; its Program Director is Anywar Ricky Richard, a former LRA child soldier whose life story is a saga of survival and courage. Ricky eventually escaped, was restored and went to university to prepare himself for a life of caring for former child soldiers in Northern Uganda.
FRO concentrates on the needs of children who were abducted or forcibly recruited as soldiers in LRA, with a special emphasis on girls who endured huge amounts of abuse, many of whom now have children and are HIV positive. Both boys and girls, some as young as nine, were combatants. They suffered physical, psychological and emotional abuse, and were forced to conduct a wide range of atrocities, including atrocities against family members and neighbors. Reintegration back to family (where family still exists since many were killed and others are internally displaced and live in refugee camps) and community requires a phased process including traditional methodology as well as community education. FRO programs provide individual, peer and group counseling and clinical therapy, education, skills training, recreation and games, job creation skills, and projects which are both therapeutic and income generating. HIV/AIDS home-base care, support, counseling and prevention training, and referrals for treatment, is a growing component of FRO’s programs.
Peer leadership has been a highly successful part of the rehabilitative process. Former child soldiers are grouped according to age, background and personal experience under a group peer leader who records their aspirations, goals, dreams, and experiences under rebel captivity or in the hands of their relatives. Peer leaders and the group then determine plans geared to achieve their goals. These are later grouped into findings to help ground psychological and other support systems. This is part of FRO’s bottom to top planning process.
The rationale behind peer leadership is to allow free expression by former soldiers/ children/ orphans and understanding of their feelings. Adults participate as guides to the discussion, but peer leaders lead the discussions. Follow-up planning then follows further bottom, then middle and top-level planning.
In middle level forums, the peer group leaders discuss the various opinions and outcomes of the peer group discussions. Then, a representative of the group sits in on the top level-planning forum. This has helped FRO plan comprehensively for all situations and needs of adolescents and children they serve.
After middle and top-level management approve program plans, the next effort is in acquiring needed materials, equipment and resources for immediate projects and activities, which is facilitated by the group leaders. Long-term goals are also planned for implementation.
Arts and cultural therapy projects are a high priority. These are organized and include drama, songs, and poems which depict the various situations of war, poverty, conflict, orphanage lifestyle and how best to solve problems and address issues. This has gone a long way and has cut across broad lines to change people’s attitudes about wars while creating an openness to conflict resolution. These art forms also raise consciousness around how to understand the special needs of orphans and child mothers in post-conflict society. It creates awareness in the community that former child soldiers are no different from other children. All children need care and support.
Dramas are audio and video taped, then viewed by many in local conferences, workshops, and seminars. Children also tell delegates their problems, what they think is the right thing to do and how best it can be done to resolve conflict and address the needs of children. Peer counselors implement most of the psychological support programs, and attempts are made to seek professional clinicians. FRO is focused on the role of the children and youth they serve in telling their stories, through testimonials, storytelling and artwork.
How many volunteers should I recruit for my local Xslaves.org chapter?
The more committed volunteers you can recruit, the more money you are likely to raise. You can get volunteers to recruit other volunteers to increase the impact of your organization.
What is the best way to raise money?
Direct solicitation either in-person or via letters or e-mails can be an effective way to raise money. If you educate a potential donor about the issue of slavery , he or she is more likely to contribute. In addition to direct solicitation, you can organize fund-raising activities such as car washes, bake sales, walk-a-thons, and more. You are only limited by your imagination.
Is Xslaves.org just for students?
No, our organization was founded by students and is led by students, but adults of all ages are welcome to start a chapter, join as volunteers, or donate money.