Children are treasures that must be preserved from the atrocities of war in DR Congo

Bora is a 14 year-old Young Reporter from Lubumbashi, in the South of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s former Katanga Province. She participated in the national workshop on grave violations of children’s rights in armed conflict, organised in Kinshasa at the end of July, and she expresses with passion and commitment her wishes and impressions on the subject.

We, the children of Katanga, say NO to the six serious human rights violations of children in armed conflict.

These violations are serious crimes which significantly affect our brothers and sisters from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as those from northern Katanga, and compromise their future and consequently the development of our dear country.

In this context, it is impossible to tell that the country is developing because up until now, some children still experience inhumane treatment. The youth who make development possible and represent the future, must be protected from such abuse.

We have to understand that the following sentence from our ancestors, “children are wealth”, does not only mean that they can be a source of income but also and above all that children are shrubs which, after being well taken care of, will become trees that produce good fruit, trees capable of improving the profile of this beautiful country, known as the DRC.

We may mourn all of the mutilated and massacred children but we must especially always remember that each one carried with them value and knowledge.

Every time these children are killed, we must ask ourselves if we have not lost a better man than Abraham Lincoln, a woman more courageous than Joan of Arc or even an individual wiser than Albert Einstein.

And for the children who experience sexual violence and all the other forms of mistreatment, although they may get back the years of studies they will have lost, go through some specialized centers and so on, there is still an old saying that goes, “what’s bred in the bone, comes out in the flesh.”

In other words, one always bears the mark of one’s past.

The children who have lived through such violations will probably appear healthy but as we know all too well, it sometimes takes a lifetime in order to heal a wound. But what about the suffering? What about a lost childhood and so many years of continuous pain? It may all be hidden but unfortunately it will never be forgotten.

There will always be negative consequences in the future; it is better to prevent than to treat, as they say.

We commend the efforts of the government but sometimes, with regards to the DRC, we think that we are regressing. Indeed, for us, the only way of seeing that progress has been made and the objective met is to ensure that no child remains in ther ranks of the parties to the armed conflict, even armed groups.

The elite of this country does not exist through only the children who goes to school, but it dies with all these children who suffer from so many atrocities committed during various armed conflicts faced by our country.

I learned from a Chinese proverb that “money does not buy back youth.”

No matter how rich we are, no matter how much of a geographical scandal we are (despite our unused natural resources), so long as we lose a youth before they are educated and able to work for the beautiful country of the DRC, none of these riches will ever compensate for that loss.

Years go by, but the hope for a Congo more beautiful than before is dying.

Teach my hand not to carry a weapon that could destroy you, but rather to carry a backpack, which will allow you to grow.

A child gone missing is the future of the Congo gone missing.

Check out the song “Enfants, Pas Soldats” (“Children, Not Soldiers”) by the children of DRC who believe in change for and by children:

And check out the acting talents that the children demonstrate in demanding respect for their rights:

©UNICEF DRC/2015/Serge Wingi
Kindly translated from French by Katherine Goulart

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Bora a 14 ans et elle est enfant reporter à Lubumbashi. Plus tard elle veut être criminologue. Aujourd’hui elle s’attache à rassembler les enfants reporters de toutes les provinces pour que leur voix résonne jusqu’au bout du monde!

Bora is 14 years old and is a child reporter in Lubumbashi. In the future she would like to be a criminologist. Today, she is trying hard to bring together child reporters from all the provinces so that their voices will be heard in the far corners of the world!

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