We hear increasingly about the difficulties of veterans trying to return to ordinary life after a stint in the military. Associate professor of social work Myriam Denov is involved with a group of former soldiers whose re-entry into society is nothing short of miraculous.
Denov works with children in Sierra Leone who have been both perpetrators and vic- tims of violence in armed conflict. Many were abducted, forced into armed groups and ordered to murder, rape and torture “enemies,” mainly civilians. The young people— girls as well as boys—were often fed powerful drugs to gear them for combat.
Since the decade-long civil war ended, these youth have had “enormous issues of guilt and shame to deal with,” says Denov. “Many communities rejected the children. They couldn’t go home so they migrated to urban areas where they could remain hidden.”