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Providing assistance for children released from armed groups in DRC

Following the kind generosity of an In Memoriam gift, 30 former child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have participated in a community reintegration programme.

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The young people undertook apprenticeships, so not only have they learnt new skills but they are making a steady income, and in some cases making contributions towards the education of their younger siblings.

Our partner in DRC, BOAD (Bureau Oecuménique d’Appui au Développement), have been working over the last two years to reintegrate children who had previously been associated with armed groups back into communities within the Beni Territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This work has been hugely successful and following six months of training in their chosen profession the 30 young people participating in this community reintegration programme have completed their apprenticeships and received their official certificates from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Humanitarian Action and National Solidarity.

  • 17 young women are now involved in sewing / dress making and following their training are now able to sell their custom made blouses, skirts, dresses, shirts for men and gowns at their local market.

  • 4 young men have trained to become carpenters and are now creating benches, kitchen tables, chairs, shelves and beds which are being sold at the local market.

  • 5 young men are now motorcycle mechanics in their local area and are able to repair tyres, electrical faults, repair and install carburettors and make further diagnosis on mechanical issues.

  • 4 young women completed apprenticeships in hair and beauty, and have become experts at braiding, weaving and plaiting hair.

Each of these young people have expressed great satisfaction in having been reintegrated into communities, and have commented on how thankful they are to live in homes, and to have beds with bedding.

The young women involved in this project agreed that they are so proud to wear their uniforms; they no longer have to wear torn clothes.

These individuals have been working hard at their new jobs and are now making a steady income, 40% of the young people are proud to say they now have savings, and the ability to spend some of their money to purchase clothes and shoes.

 

Commendations

This intervention has had much praise and support from the local community.

Up to 95% of local businesses offered their facilities in support of this work and the two largest church bodies – the Anglican and the Catholic Churches also indicated their support for this work.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Humanitarian Action and National Solidarity also praised the work being done with these young people, and encouraged the continuation of this work in other parts of the Beni Territory, stating that the young people involved in this initiative have become a breeding ground for peace.


Background

The Democratic Republic of Congo has remained a complex environment following decades of armed conflict, and much of the population has been left with a legacy of poverty, displacement, violence and corruption.

Christian Aid has been working in the region since 1995 and is committed to contributing towards the efforts of communities to build a prosperous and democratic nation at the heart of Africa, one where every citizen can build their own future without fearing the present day.

About the author

Sorley McCaughey

Sarah Leeman is Christian Aid Ireland's Appeals Officer

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