Honoree Spotlight

Anywar Ricky Richard: Healing the Wounds of War

The average person would not willingly stand up to brutal organizations like the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). But 2008 World of Children Honoree Anywar Ricky Richard is not your average person. Though he has been threatened with death and even ambushed while driving, Ricky continues his work to rehabilitate former child soldiers in Uganda and promote peace within their communities.

He did not choose this work at random; Ricky was once a child soldier himself. At the age of 14, Ricky’s village was attacked by LRA rebels, and he immediately understood why they were there.

On the Ground
Anywar Ricky Richard – 2008 World of Children Humanitarian Award

Impact to date:

Over 1,000 children are supported by his schools.

World of Children Honoree Map


To contribute to the empowerment, rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers, abductees, child mothers, orphans, and to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Words of Wisdom:

“They tell me their whole story because I’m one of them,”

“We heard a gunshot,” said Ricky in a video on Culture Unplugged. “I got scared. I knew that we were being abducted.”

The rebels proceeded to round up Ricky’s family, lock them in a thatched hut and set the hut on fire. He and his brother were forced to watch as his family screamed for help.

Over the next two and a half years, Ricky witnessed unbelievable brutality as a child soldier for the LRA. Torture, rape and killing were committed in front of Ricky and other abducted children. He eventually managed to escape and became determined to undo some of the damage done by war.

After graduating from the University of Makerere in Uganda, Ricky established Friends of the Orphans to help rehabilitate former child soldiers and integrate them back into their communities. An estimated 25,000 children have been taken by the LRA over the past few decades in Uganda alone. Many of these children are forced to kill family members or terrorize their communities, permanently severing their ties to home; other children return feeling isolated because they are infected with HIV or have been sexually abused.

However, because Ricky can relate to what happened to them, children who come to Friends of the Orphans are able to open up about their experiences and begin to recover.

“They tell me their whole story because I’m one of them,” Ricky said. “I’m part of them.”

Friends of the Orphans helps these children realize that they have a second chance at what they felt they had lost forever: a normal life. Aside from basic medical care, children in the program receive educational and vocational training; they are also encouraged to get involved in dance, drama and sports to help them reconnect with their communities.

“They have already lost their childhood,” Ricky said. “They lost their hope in life. They don’t have any confidant at all. But now we build back confidence in them.”

In 2008, Ricky received a World of Children Humanitarian Award for his dedication to helping former child soldiers and promoting a peaceful end to the ongoing war. He has also received the 2008 Harriet Tubman Freedom Award and most recently was honored with the 2012 IREX Founders’ Day Award.

Ricky used his World of Children grant funds to continue rebuilding war-torn regions in Uganda. Today, he is still helping to turn former child soldiers into educated, integral parts of their communities.

“The horrible things that we have gone through has created a very beautiful thing for the community,” Ricky said.

Though he still feels the scars of the horrific experiences he endured as a child, Ricky strongly believes that he can help bring a peaceful end to the war, one child at a time.

“I believe that somewhere — where ever [my parents] are — they are seeing what I am doing,” Ricky said. “And they are happy about what I am doing. And I believe that this is the only way I can pay them back.”

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