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Thursday, June 18 • 1:45pm - 3:15pm
Children & War - Fiona Thomas, Julie Schiltz, Friederike Mieth

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Children & War:

Abstract #133
Emic Perspectives on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children’s Mental Health in Northern Sri Lanka and Northwestern Burundi
Presenter: Fiona Thomas
Abstract:
Background: The impact of armed conflict on the mental health of children and youth has been well documented. However, emic perspectives (i.e. locally held insider views) on the mental health consequences of armed conflicts have received less attention. Methods: We collected qualitative data in northern Sri Lanka and northwestern Burundi. In Sri Lanka, there were a total of 50 participants, including children, parents, teachers, traditional and religious healers, health workers, and non-governmental organization staff. In Burundi, there were a total of 185 participants, including children, parents, teachers, and key informants.  Focus groups and semi-structured interviews were conducted in both settings.Results: Using a theoretical framework of ecological resilience, we found multiple examples of resources for children at the family, peer and community levels. Thematic analyses indicated that most mental health problems, including spiritual problems and perceived cultural decline, are addressed within the family, but eclectic care across the formal and informal sectors is sought when symptoms persist or worsen. Conclusions: We conclude that mental health services in both countries could be improved by building on local mental health conceptualizations and available resources. Additionally, variations in emic resources between settings should be addressed prior to the implementation of any intervention.
Authors: Thomas, Fiona; Tol, Wietse; Vallipuram, Anavarathan; Sivayokan, Sambasivamoorthy; Ndayisaba, Aline; Ntamutumba, Prudence; Jordans, Mark; Reis, Ria; de Jong, Joop

Abstract #229
Individual and Social Rresilience in Sierra Leone
Presenter: Friederike Mieth 
Abstract:
Sierra Leone has endured a 10-year long civil war from 1991 to 2002. In the aftermath of the war, much scholarly attention has been paid to the causes and effects of the violence, and to institutional forms of dealing with the past such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a war crimes tribunal, and demobilization and reintegration programs. What received less scrutiny so far were the many ways in which Sierra Leoneans demonstrated resilience, both individually and socially. Drawing from ethnographic data collected during 9 months of fieldwork in different locations in the country, I explore these different forms of resilience and discuss a range of possible individual and socio-cultural factors that may have contributed to resilience in post-war Sierra Leone. I argue that more anthropolgoical research on resilience is needed: while some of the promoting factors I discuss are well-researched across cultures in psychology and related disciplines, other factors seem to be specific for the local and even community context and therefore need much deeper ethnographic scrutiny. I close the presentation by discussing some conceptual and methodological challenges of researching resilience as an anthropologist.

Abstract #245
The Social Reintegration of Former Child Soldiers From a Community Perspective 
Presenter: Julie Schiltz
Abstract:
This presentation outlines the findings of a study on how communities in northern Uganda handle relational and social challenges during the reintegration of former child soldiers. Previous research suggest that child soldiering has communal aspects, and that the post-child soldiering reintegration process is a shared effort by all community members. Yet, community perspectives are often neglected in research on child soldiering, impeding the development of resilience communities in a post-conflict setting. 
A total of 249 participants, among whom 49 former child soldiers, participated in a total of 36 group sessions. Participatory techniques enhanced input from all community members and contextual sensitivity of the research. Central themes for all participants during the reintegration of former child soldiers were letting go of fear, getting used to life after child soldiering, resentment & forgiveness and reducing insults. While all participants addressed similar topics, the results also highlight their particular positions and aspirations within this complex reality, and show significant differences between perspectives of former child soldiers and other participants. This study raises important implications for understanding and supporting the post-child soldiering reintegration process from a contextual perspective. Relying on the voices of different community members, this presentation will critically reflect on reintegration efforts for former child soldiers that frequently adopt a pathological and individualized approach.

Presenters
avatar for Fiona Thomas

Fiona Thomas

PhD Candidate, Ryerson University
Fiona Thomas is currently a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology program at Ryerson University. She completed her MSc at the London School of Economics, where her thesis was focused on coping and resilience in urban refugees in Kathmandu, Nepal. Broadly, her academic interests... Read More →
avatar for Friederike Mieth

Friederike Mieth

Friederike Mieth completed her Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Philipps University Marburg (Germany) in 2014. In her dissertation, she explores everyday strategies and practices of dealing with the past in post-conflict Sierra Leone. She currently works as a researcher... Read More →
JS

Julie Schiltz

Julie is a PhD student at the department of Special Education at Ghent University (Belgium) and is affiliated to the Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations (CCVS) as a researcher. She studied Educational Sciences and Conflict and Development Studies at Ghent University. She... Read More →


Thursday June 18, 2015 1:45pm - 3:15pm
Archibald Room NAB 3rd Floor, King's College

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