A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa
to them. In people’s perceptions, they will cause problems later when they come to inherit, especially if they are boys. Families put continuous pressure on girls to take the children back to their fathers, even though they may not know who the fathers are. The child mothers say they love their children, but consider them to be a burden, for example when they (the child mothers) come to marry or look for
work or go back to school.
Some of these children are already of school age, but have little prospect of attending school because of their mothers’ poverty. The children of child mothers suffer the same fate as the latter: they are rejected by their fathers and by society. They live in poverty as do their mothers and they face an uncertain future. The same lack of resources which affects child mothers means that their children suffer from lack of care, and this may even lead to their deaths from negligence.
Some illustrations from the testimonies
‘I left my family home because my brothers chased me away. But after a while my mother asked me to go back home. My child was sick, but they refused to give me any money to treat him, they said that it wasn’t worth the trouble to care for a child who had no known father. He got ill three times and I had to do agricultural work to earn a bit of money to treat him. The last time he got ill, I couldn’t provide treatment for him, and he died. Now my brothers and all my family love me and treat me well because I no longer have a child.’
‘Problems are arising now that my child is getting older. Father says I should take the child back to his father, although I don’t know which soldier I had him with, or where he is at the moment.’
‘He doesn’t go to school, or else he is absent for a week here and there, either because he doesn’t have pens and paper, or because he doesn’t have clothes.’
‘Well, I love this child whose father I don’t know, and I love him just like the other children. I love him because it was me who gave birth to him, and to me he’s just the same as the others. And as well as that, I thank God for what he has done for me, because I think all my children are gifts which He has given me, because not everyone is able to have children.’
2.9 What hopes do the respondents have for the future?
At the end of the interviews, the girls set out their hopes for their reintegration. Most of them wished to be accepted by society and no longer to be discriminated against by their families, friends and communities. They wanted to have husbands,