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'Children of War' Documents Rehabilitation of Former Child Soldiers


'Children of War' Documents Rehabilitation of Former Child Soldiers

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American filmmaker Bryan Single explores the rehabilitation process of former child soldiers in northern Ugandan in his new movie "Children of War." The film premiered recently in Washington.

These boys are the lucky ones who appear in Bryan Single's documentary, Children of War. He's alive to tell about the years that he and thousands of other children spent fighting for the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group.

"It essentially focuses on a group of children, about 80 of them in this rehabilitation center," Single explains, "Out of that, three emerged more predominantly than the others…two boys and one girl."

The LRA has been fighting in Northern Uganda for more than 20 years, and has carried its fight into other parts of Africa. The rebels are notorious for their brutality and for kidnapping children to serve as fighters and sex slaves.

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Single was given full access into these children's lives at the Rachele Rehabilitation Center in northern Uganda. He does not interview them directly. Most of the footage comes from counseling sessions.

"I didn't want to interrupt their counseling sessions, their process of healing by stopping it and asking questions and getting them out their emotional space… that ultimately meant that I did not get their translation until later," Single said.

This is Akulu. When still a child she became this man's wife. Abonga Papa is the former chief priest of LRA leader Joseph Kony, but now renounces his rebel ties and openly begs for forgiveness.

The film shows the former child soldiers going through a healing process. They pray for forgiveness. They learn to live normal lives again. But when it's time to leave and rejoin their families, new challenges lie ahead.

Single attended the premier in Washington and interacted with members of the audience after the screening. Later, several people still had more to say.

Single plans to show Children of War in other parts of the United States. He says more attention needs to be paid to all victims of war, not just former child soldiers.