Their only family: the street

street children in DRC

 Children are the future and it is with them that we should build a strong country, in solidarity and peace (Photo: UNICEF DRC Falvo)

The street has become the only family for many children across the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Traditionally called ‘shegués’, these street children nonetheless have the right to enjoy a decent life and a better family than the street can provide.

Similar stories

In Bunia, the capital of Ituri Province, too many children live in this situation.  Exaucé, 14, has been living on the street since 2012. “I left home because of abuse. I later learned that my mother had died and I have never known my father,” explains Exaucé. “Here we sleep in half-built houses. When it rains, we have to find refuge in toilets or in restaurants for the night. Right now I am a waste collector and I transport water. The little money I earn allows me to buy glue to get high.”

Jean is another boy who I met. He is 15 years old and has been living on the street since 2011, following the separation of his parents. “To earn money, I transport water for restaurants and take care of the rubbish. The money helps me to buy food and sometimes clothes, but also drugs so I can forget my misery.”

The same rights for every child

Exaucé, Jean and all children living on the street are like us. They have the same rights as us. While we sleep in our beds and have breakfast before school, these children drink alcohol to warm themselves up. We go to school to learn new things, while they learn how to steal to get something to eat and survive. When we go home we greet our families and have a roof over our heads to shelter us from storms, these children live in fear and misery.

We ask that these children be welcomed into homes or shelters so they can regain their childhoods. The street should not be their only family.

Children are the future and it is with them that we should build a strong country, in solidarity and peace.

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Written by Blessing, Young Reporter from Ituri Province

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