21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help

by Peace Direct
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21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help
21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help

Thank you for supporting this life changing project these past few years. Your kind gifts have touched many lives and will continue to leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.

As a peacebuilding organisation working directly with local people, we need to be reactive and adaptive to the wants and needs of our partners. This means that sometimes we need to switch things up – especially when they tell us that their needs are changing. That’s why we’re winding down this project. To focus on the immediate, evolving needs of our local partners around the world.

We hope you’ll remember this project, and consider supporting more like it in the future via our website. Alternatively you can follow our latest news and updates on our Facebook or Twitter pages, or sign-up for regular email updates.

Thank you again for supporting this important work. While we may not be very active on this platform anymore, rest assured that your generosity will continue to inspire hope and positive change for generations to come.

With gratitude,

Oscar, Senior Fundraising & Digital Officer

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A COOP in action.
A COOP in action.

This year, we continued our work to strengthen livelihoods through agricultural activities with local communities. Our partner has set up 19 agricultural cooperatives composed of a mix of genders, tribes, and civilians as well as ex-combatants – totaling 619 members, and reaching over 2,500 people, including family members. 

Over the course of the year, 582 people received training in new agricultural techniques to apply to their fields. 96% of this group also received training in financial management and accounting, to boost their ability to manage their income from the agricultural activities. Many cooperative members are already developing their own income-generating activities through the technical and management skills they have received, for example fish farming, carpentry and oil mills.

539 (92%) of the cooperative members were also trained on non-violent conflict resolution, and the cooperative association now plays an active role in resolving conflicts between members, or between members and other community members. 

One of the key achievements of the cooperatives is changing attitudes towards and treatment of ex-combatants. Former fighters in Eastern DRC often find themselves excluded from group activities, and stigmatised in their communities. The many former fighters active in our partner's cooperatives work and live peacefully with civilians. Not only do they live together peacefully, but many ex-combatants have taken up the position of cooperative chief. 

By combining reintegration support for former fighters with livelihood-building and community activities, our partner is ensuring that ex-combatants can participate in community development activities, interact with civilians and gaining trust once more.

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Josephine at home (Representative)
Josephine at home (Representative)

Josephine lived a violent lifestyle before our local partner in Northern DRC, Centre Résolution Conflits [CRC], helped her to begin living a life away from violence. She now lives safely and securely, and helps former child soldiers to do the same. This is his story.

Josephine lived on a farm in the town of Butembo before her land was seized and her husband murdered by a rebel militia.

Angry, afraid and seeking revenge, she soon joined a rival group and spent 6 years fighting for them in the bush. But when they began recruiting children into their ranks, Josephine knew that she had to escape.

She did, and soon joined CRC. They helped her to begin building a life away from violence, providing her with skills and livelihood trainings.

Josephine now works as a liaison between militias, and negotiates the release of child soldiers using her specialist knowledge acquired from years in the field. Her home functions as a half-way house for former child soldiers, who - following months of work and skills-training - she ensures are safely integrated back into their communities with the chance at a new job and better life.

Without the bravery of women like Josephine, the future might not look so peaceful for these children.

By donating to this project, you are helping women like Josephine contribute towards the health, safety, and peacefulness of their communities. A further donation of just £15 pounds today could pay for CRC to meet with rebel groups and identify child soldiers, whilst a generous donation of £60 could pay for an at risk child to learn a trade (such as hairdressing or brick-making) which could dissuade them from joining a militia group. With your support, we can provide more opportunities to vulnerable children in DRC, and continue to build peace in their communities. Thank you.

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Kakule felt pressured to join a local militia group before our local Congolese partner, Centre Résolution Conflits [CRC], gave him the opportunity to attend a vocational training course. Now, he feels accepted and valued within his community. This is his story.

“My name is Kakule. I’m 14 years old. I’ve been attending a locally run vocational training centre for the last seven months. I’m learning skills to build motorbikes and to repair bicycles. This has had a very positive impact on my life. It has changed my mind about joining local militia groups.”

“I know of a few young boys from my village who have joined a local militia group and told me many things about joining the armed group, they eat well every day, steal goats from villagers and drink alcoholic drinks when they want.”

“I almost joined.”

“Then we learned the leader had been arrested by the government, and we then didn’t have any clear direction to follow. That’s the moment we heard about this CRC project and the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge to allow us to start a new life. We had two choices: enrol in the militia or get involved in vocational training to stay out of reach of the militia. I chose the second option.”

“During the first few months in the vocational training centre we received life skills support. They taught us about the rules of conduct in society, how to behave when with adults and our own parents so we can easily become active members of the community again.”

“So far, I feel well accepted and valued in the community. I’m very thankful for this programme. It has made such a difference to my life.”

By donating to this project, you are helping children like Kakule to contribute towards the health, safety, and peacefulness of their communities. A further donation of just £15 pounds today could pay for CRC to meet with rebel groups and identify child soldiers, whilst a generous donation of £60 could pay for a vulnerable child to learn a trade (such as hairdressing or brick-making) which could dissuade them from joining a militia group. With your support, we can provide more opportunities to children like Kakule, and continue to help them to build peace in their communities. Thank you.

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When he was just 15-years old, Benedict, a young boy from North Kivu in DRC; was captured by a militia group and made to become a child soldier. He knew that the things he was being forced to do were wrong however, and soon found the courage to escape. Thanks to your support of this project: Benedict is now back home, earning a sustainable living, and helping to put his younger sister through school - but there is still much work to be done. This is his story.

“I used to live a happy life. I lived with my parents and was a big brother to my little brothers and sisters.”

“[One evening,] I was stopped by bandits holding guns. They intimidated me. I had no choice but to follow them into the bush. I was terrified. They took me to join a militia group. I was trained to handle [a] gun, to smoke cigarettes of all kinds and to become a combatant ready to die for our captain.”

“Life became more and more difficult. To eat we had to rob villages or trap people on the roads. I remember being forced to go and intimidate a father. He gave me a lot of money that I had to bring back to our commander. I felt more and more annoyed by these acts and wanted to stop doing them.”

“Thankfully, I made friends with two other children [who were] the same age as me. One day [we were] sent to go and steal hemp for our commander from a field. With my friends, I decided to escape and stop living life in the militia. So instead of stealing the hemp, we ran away. We were so afraid of being caught by the other soldiers. But we did it. We walked for two days and two nights to escape.”

“One morning, a mother found us sleeping in her field: exhausted, hungry and covered in dirt. She was afraid and tried to make us move. But we begged her. She gave us clothes and helped us [to] get a bicycle so we could go to the local market in my home village. My friends, the ones I escaped with, lived in another village. We had to leave each other and go in different directions. I was very emotional. I couldn’t stop crying.”

“Walking down the road to my house, my mother was the first to see me. She ran towards me. Her eyes were filled with tears and she hugged me so strongly. She was crying, laughing and shouting all at once.” 

“A few days after my return, I learned about a group [Peace Direct’s local partner in North Kivu, Centre Résolution Conflits (CRC)] who supported children and young people that had been in armed groups. My mother introduced me to them and I learned about their projects. I took part in their hairdressing training course at their training centre. I learned how to cut hair, to look after customers, to keep my equipment clean and in good condition. Once I completed the training, I received a starter kit, so I could keep my own business going. I became a good hairdresser, and now I’m know by many in my village. This allows me to earn money and even to pay for school for my two little sisters.”

“Because of this my life has completely changed. I am proud to have become an important person in my family, and my village. I dream of a better future.”

By donating to this project, you are helping former child soldiers like Benedict contribute towards the health, safety, and peacefulness of their communities. A further donation of just £15 pounds today could pay for our local partner to trek into the bush to meet with rebel groups and identify child soldiers, whilst a generous donation of £60 could pay for a former child soldier to learn a trade such as hairdressing or brick-making. With your support, we can provide more opportunities to children like Benedict, and continue to help them to build peace in their communities. Thank you.

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Organization Information

Peace Direct

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @peacedirect
Project Leader:
Oscar Lester
London, United Kingdom

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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