During the first project conference, the six local partner organizations discussed the merits of the body mapping methodology and chose this technique as part of the research process.

Each local organization chose which groups they wanted to engage in the body mapping process. While some organizations chose to exclusively have former underage combatants participate, others involved a wider set of stakeholders, such as family and community members.


Each body mapping session began with a moderator explaining the methodology and engaging the group in a short example of the technique.


After this, the participants were presented with a large piece of blank paper. The outline of a person was traced upon this paper, and the moderator began the session by asking a number of facilitating questions. Often the process began at the head and worked downwards. As a starting point, the moderator would ask the group: “What is the effect of being a child soldier on a child’s head?” Questions were intentionally left open to elicit either physiological answers (such as headaches and vertigo) or an emotional state (depression, confusion, trauma). Sessions typically lasted between 45 and 90 minutes. All sessions had at least one moderator and one note-taker present. A total of ten body maps were collected for this project.

Members of the research team studied each body map and then recorded insights and distinctive characteristics. Two researchers coded salient themes and analyzed notes from each session. Researchers organized these notes into six categories: head, torso, arms, legs, genitalia and space outside of the body. Once these data were organized, the body maps’ geographical origin, gender of the depicted body, participants’ role in their community and themes relating to both pictorial and written data were recorded in a spreadsheet. After examining the data, the research team sorted the data into three dominant categories that emerged: mental health issues, physical issues and social issues.

Click here to browse the body maps