In the chaos of armed conflict, children are particularly vulnerable to all kinds of abuses, including recruitment by military groups. My first encounter with child soldiers was for a Caritas reintegration project in Masisi, Nord-Kivu. About twenty boys, some shockingly young, lived together in a very basic compound surrounded by a fence. Some were freed thanks to mediation of the UN, others just escaped.
At first sight nothing much distinguished these boys from other kids until they started talking about their experiences and the difficulties to get back to their normal life, the difficulty and rejection for reintegration in their society, and just to be a child again.