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War - What is it good for?
Causes of war
Impacts of war
Injury or death
War breaks up families
Painful memories
Child soldiers
A shattered land
Weapons vs welfare
Stages of conflict
Case study: Rwanda - Part 1

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Painful memories
Children go through terrible experiences during a war. Some are injured or threatened, many more see friends, neighbours and even their own family hurt or killed. They live with fear, hunger and loneliness. Violence and hatred surround them. Even once they are safe, the nightmares come back.

Heather MacLeod is a New Zealand nurse who has worked with many children traumatised by their war experiences. She knows they need to talk about it and get their feelings out, or the memories will keep hurting them for years to come. She says, 'I always know the children most at risk. They're the quiet ones who withdraw into themselves'.

Phyllis Kilbourn, a psychologist who also works with children affected by war, uses a system to help her plan her programmes. In her book, Healing the Wounds of War, she lists four things which are important in helping traumatised children. Together they help STOP the chaos war leaves in a child's mind.

Structure – a regular routine in a safe, orderly environment
Talking and time – a chance to tell their story and let their feelings out
Organised play – to express themselves and to feel normal again
Parental support – at least one caring adult to support the child

The STOP formula has proven effective in World Vision's Kosovo programme, helping battle-scarred children recover from the trauma of war. An integral part of the programme in 1999 was New Zealand actor Aaron Ward's alter ego, Elvo the clown. As a mime clown, Elvo did not speak so language was not a barrier. He entertained by making balloon animals, painting faces, and encouraging children to draw pictures.

Elvo transformated the refugee centres he visited - at first a degree of puzzlement, then hilarity, then full-on excitement and delight. Under the circumstances it's remarkable the children smiled at all. Dr. Deanna Beech, a clinical psychologist who heads up the programme says, 'Elvo reminded children there are fun things and they can be happy. Otherwise they would tend to grow up seeing other people as inevitably aggressive. Without these fun times their entire personality can change for the worse and perpetuate the conflicts they come from.'

Click Here to download a video clip on Elvo the clown.
(Please note - this video requires Windows Media Player 8 or greater)

Imagine that a young person your own age has just joined your class at school. Ana is a refugee who has just moved from her war-torn country to yours. Her mother and father were killed in the war and she now lives with her aunt and uncle in your community. She is silent most of the time, but becomes angry and violent over even the smallest incident, for example, when someone accidentally bumps into her.

Divide into small groups Draw a circle divided into three parts. Label them ‘anger’ ‘fear’ and ‘sadness’. In the appropriate segments, list the reasons why Ana might be experiencing that emotion.

List the people, activities and opportunities in your school or class that might help Ana. Use the STOP approach to help you with your ideas.