Body Mapping


(Far left) This vignette made by a female child combatant’s mother reflects the rejection, distrust, and fear former child combatants face from their communities as represented by crossed out family members and school, church, and hospital buildings.


(Left of the main figure’s head) This drawing, made by a female child combatant’s mother who is portrayed as a smaller figure with a line going to her daughter’s ear. An “X” and a question mark at the end of the line indicate that the mother’s advice does not reach her child, illustrates communication problems.


(Left side of the main figure) A circle with a small person inside illustrates a girl carrying a baby in her womb. This drawing made by a female child combatant’s mother highlights the victimization of girls in the combatant camps where they ran the risk of becoming pregnant.


(Far left) SIDA (AIDS in French): for female child combatants sexual violence could result in infections and disease, such as AIDS.


(Far left) KILONDA TUMBU (stomach ulcer in Kiswahili): the former child combatants described extreme pain or “knives in the stomach” as a result of starvation.


(Far right) This drawing made by a male child combatant’s mother shows a former combatant’s hand holding goods that were commonly pillaged: a house, a chicken, and crops, along with a flower, which expresses the desire for positive relationships .


(Top right) Sitting atop a chair, the former child combatant is drawn much larger than the other children below.

This vignette illustrates how some male former child combatants intimidated other children when they returned to school.


(Right side of the main figure) Aggression was one of the ways the returning male child combatants coped. One mother drew a heart with “a knife and a rock to show the anger…”

Uvira Body Map

2011 Makers: Parents of former child combatants (Uvira, Democratic Republic of the Congo) Marker and ink on paper Courtesy of Jocelyn Kelly, Program on Gender, Rights and Resilience, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

The Uvira body map illustrates the impacts of war on child combatants of both genders: female (left half) and male (right half). Mapping seen and unseen factors, the images reveal physical effects as well as memories, identities, and psychological and social effects on the children as they attempt to rebuild their lives after war.

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