Southern Sudan has suffered from decades of conflict, including the brutal civil war between North and South and clashes between Southern tribes. Since the 1990s Sudan has experienced the presence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which has led to years of LRA violence and abductions of southern Sudanese children.
Jim Long John (pictured above, left) has worked with the Totto Chan Centre for Child Trauma, in Juba, since its inception in 1997, rehabilitating abductees of the LRA and child soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
I started working with children abducted by the LRA when I was asked to open the Totto Chan Centre with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. The LRA was already in southern Sudan at the time.
The abducted children saw so many harrowing things. Most of them escaped when they were sent to fetch water or firewood.
One boy came to me, helped identify the LRA-abducted children in town, and brought them to Totto Chan. This is how we started saving children from the LRA.
At first UNICEF told me it was a deadly job because of the Sudan Armed Forces resistance and violence, but we persisted secretly. We talk to the community about the LRA, about what the children have been through. We help counsel the families who receive traumatized children.
Jim Long John, Centre director