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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 108-124

Building meaningful participation in reintegration among war-affected young mothers in Liberia, Sierra Leone and northern Uganda

1 psychologist, nurse and Professor of Women's and International Studies at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming, USA., USA
2 lecturer in Applied Psychology, University College Cork, Ireland
3 currently a Ph.D. student in Epidemiology at the School of Public Health at U.C. Berkeley. She received her Masters in Development Studies from Oxford University in 2006. Miranda Worthen, Doctoral Candidate, Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA USA., USA
4 Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University in the Program on Forced Migration and Health, and Professor of Psychology at Randolph-Macon College

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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When young mothers, formerly associated with armed groups, return to communities, they are typically social isolated, stigmatised, and marginalised. This creates reintegration challenges for themselves, and their communities. Their children face child protection problems such as neglect, rejection and abuse. In this paper, the authors describe an innovative field practice - community based, participatory action research (PAR) - that meaningfully involved formerly associated young mothers, and other vulnerable young mothers, in their communities. The project took place in 20 field sites in three countries: Liberia, northern Uganda and Sierra Leone. It was implemented through an academic, nongovernmental organisation (NGO) partnership. The participants were 658 young mothers, both formerly associated with armed groups and other mothers seen to be vulnerable. Within the context of caring psychosocial support, these young mothers organised themselves into groups, defined their problems, and developed social actions to address and change their situations. Some project outcomes included: young mothers and their children experiencing improved social reintegration evidenced by greater family and community acceptance; more positive coping skills; and decreased participation in sex work for economic survival.

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