On the occasion of the international day of the fight against the use of child soldiers, my child reporter friend Jospin and I, are at the Transit and Counseling Center for children formerly associated with armed forces and groups in Goma (CTO-CAJED) where we spoke with a child formerly associated with an armed group.
Bahati, a young boy, 17 years, was forcibly recruited by the rebel group ADF-NALU and brought into Uganda where he spent 2 years with the rebels. He managed to escape and returned to the country through the Beni forest.
“When the ADF were beaten by the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), it was at that moment I had the opportunity to escape in the forest; I was picked up by the FARDC and this was long before I came here to the centre.”
Since 2014, children living at CTO-CAJED were introduced to capoeira, a discipline that they well appreciate because it is an educative activity that promotes tolerance and a friendly spirit. Bahati is happy to be out of the army and aspires to a bright future.
“I feel great and I have no desire to return to the army. Here, I practice capoeira with my colleagues who also came from armed groups, it is really a good discipline because it unites us and makes us strong.”
This Wednesday 11 February 2015, the new representative of UNICEF DRC Pascal Villeneuve met the children living at CTO-CAJED; like us, child reporters, he wishes that all these children can return to their families.
“The children’s place is not in the armed forces and groups, but in their family and at school. It is there that children can build their future and that of their country“, says Pascal Villeneuve, representative of UNICEF DRC.
For this year 2015, we children reporters call upon all decision makers at the national and international levels to put all their resources to ensure a better life for all children in the DRC in general and in particular, to those that left the armed forces and groups.
Translated from French by Tahirah Charles.
Photo: UNICEF RDC 2015 Ndiaga Seck
Laetitia a 14 ans et elle est enfant reporter de la ville de Goma ainsi que présidente de la commission Education Jeux Culture et Loisirs du Parlement d'enfants. Défendre les droits de ses semblables est l'une de ses plus grandes passions. Plus tard, Laetitia aimerait devenir une grande journaliste sans s'écarter du domaine de la défense des droits des enfants pour changer le monde. Son credo: « L'enfance congolaise est une arme de construction massive »
Laetitia is 14 and a young reporter from Goma, as well as Chair of the Committee for Education, Games, Culture and Entertainment in the Children's Parliament. Defending the rights of her peers is one of her greatest passions. When she is older, Laetitia would like to become a great journalist, maintaining her dedication to the defense of children's rights to change the world. Her credo: "Congolese children are a weapon of mass construction."