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21 Child Soldiers Need Vital Help

by Peace Direct
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
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.

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.

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.

Blaise - Claire May
Blaise - Claire May

Once they've been lured into militia life by the prospect of peace and security, vulnerable children from DRC can witness things that no child ever should. But thanks to your support, we are able to work with our local Congolese partner, Centre for Resolution Conflict (CRC), to rescue exploited children from armed groups, before helping them build the peaceful futures they dream of. This is the story of Blaise - a former child soldier turned caseworker for CRC:  

'During my childhood, my uncle was a commander in the Mai Mai Rwuenzei and when I was thirteen he initiated me into militia life. My mother and father were not happy about my involvement in the militia, but they could do little about this given the context we lived [in].'

I led a battalion within the militia of 800 men and children because of my uncle’s high position. I was also a commander, [and] I lead my battalion to do whatever my uncle and the other commanders asked (taking livestock, stealing, fighting other militias etc).'

‘I left when my militia fought another militia (the Katangai’s) and 30 of the men in my militia were killed. I realised how dangerous it was and that fighting is not the way to have a peaceful community. I also was still young and knew my future was not in the militia. I put myself in the shoes of the people I hurt and stole from as part of the militia and knew it was not right.' 

‘Because of [my] uncles high position, it was easy for me to leave. I was 15 when I left [the Mai Mai]. Once I left I understood that I had a calling inside me to help combatants out of the bush. After I left, I worked on DDR for the government and local NGOs, before joining CRC when I was 21.'

‘My role in CRC is to deal with the militia leaders. The first thing I do is meet them in the bush and build confidence with them. Most of them know who I am and my former position in the militia which means CRC can get to areas even MONUSCO and the government cannot as the militia leaders trust me because of my connections. I develop friendships with these leaders so that I can negotiate for the release of children and adult combatants.

‘Both child and adult negotiations are difficult. The challenge is that in the bush, the child is on the frontlines. [As such,] negotiations can last just a week or a couple of months. Often when you return to a militia leader after a conversation he will say "no discount the previous and go back to the start".'  

‘The ease of negotiations depends on the degree of motivation the militia leaders have. I am not scared because I have a good relationship with the militia leaders. I am passionate about fighting for peace.'

 ‘When I worked with the government I helped rescue 3,000 people from the bush. With CRC I have rescued 5,700 of which 1,500 have been children. 

With your support, we can continue to support peacebuilders like Blaise as they rescue child soldiers from the Congolese bush, and subsequently provide them with the basis for a peaceful and secure future.

 

 

 

Despite insecurity, our project in Democratic Republic of Congo continues to transform lives, and strengthen communities through recusing child soldiers from a life of violence.

Not only are child soldiers being rescued from armed groups, our local partner continues to support them psychologically, and to return to school or vocational training.

Working with the local community means that community leaders are fully involved in the process of rescuing children. Our local partner helps them understand the importance of rescuing these children, and giving them opportunities to build a peaceful future. Children like Muhindo.

Despite only being a young man, Muhindo felt a great pressure to help provide for and support his family. Since leaving the militia, our local partner has supported him to make a living so that he can support his widowed mother. With help from CRC, Muhindo and his mother can live a more stable, peaceful life.

When a child soldier like Muhindo is successfully reintegrated back into their community, and supported to have a peaceful future, the whole community benefits. They can help other members of the community understand the dangers of being in a militia, and contribute to the stability of the whole community. One person at a time, communities in DR Congo can become safe for good.

 

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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
$13,921 raised of $14,800 goal
 
219 donations
$879 to go
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