(2012). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 32(2):115-135
So That Our Dreams Will Not Escape Us: Learning to Think Together in
Time of War
Armed creates situations that tear at the fabric of life,
affecting both emotional and circumstances. Far from confined to
one brief, traumatic , most armed conflicts today go on for an
indeterminate number of years. Yet, children are engaged in a process
of . That process doesn't hold still and wait for better times.
The challenge to all concerned with is to find ways to assist
communities and families to enable their children to grow up properly in time
When children are asked to name their own priorities, attending
school is at the top of the list. Children associate school success with a
hopeful future. But when they have been exposed to the most extreme forms of
violence, they often find that the very same mental mechanisms that have
allowed them to endure prevent them from using what they have experienced,
making learning impossible. Further, their teachers have also been exposed to
the horrors of war.
Extremely violent experiences are remembered differently, held in the
mind without and are not held to the internal scrutiny
of reflective functioning. Education programs that attempt to support
may call up unexpected levels of as the young minds
unconsciously struggle to keep terrifying meanings away.
However, by combining traditional healing with reparative activity,
the Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES) of Uganda was able to create
conditions for Acholi children abducted as soldiers, even those who had
seen parents and siblings killed before their eyes, to be able to tolerate the
possibility of . By addressing this fear first, the MOES has been able
to embed relational principles into the fabric of its program so that in the
midst of war, teachers can teach, children can learn, and adolescents can have
hope that their will not escape them.
In wars, we suffer from and witness some of the worst forms of
violence committed against us and the people we love. Some of us have been born
in the midst of this violence. It has become a way of life.
We believe that education is essential to our future and that we have
a right to of a better life. (However) even if we go (to school) we have
a hard time concentrating because we keep about what happened to us
and our relatives.
But when we lose months or years of school because of war, we worry
that our will escape us. When we should be learning, we are growing up
in ignorance. As a result of this ignorance comes
lack of hope. (Voices of Young People From Zones,
From a Report by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary
General for Children in Armed and UNICEF 2009)