For Peace, We Will Go the Distance

Set to run from May 30th to June 1st, 2014, the Children’s Hope Forum (Forum de l’espoir d’enfants) provides children with an opportunity for free expression to consolidate peace and promote dialogue among the children of the Great Lakes Region.

But there is a catch: all delegations must travel to Bujumbura, the host city.

This is no easy task for the Congolese team.

The first step was to meet in Kinshasa, where we would board a plane to Bukavu, then drive the rest of the way to Bujumbura as planned.

However, due to several cancelations of MONUSCO flights for some of the children, this itinerary has already undergone numerous revisions.

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Norbertine, Representative of the children of the Equateur Province

For example, take the case of our friend Norbertine, the Representative of the children of the Equateur Province, who was deplaned from the MONUSCO helicopter at the last minute to make room for peacekeepers. She was forced to take a commercial flight to Kinshasa.

Dialogue is among the most important methods of resolving a conflict and most breakthroughs in conflict resolution were made possible with dialogue.

So I have to wonder why priority is given to those who seek to build peace with weapons while those who seek to build peace through dialogue are pushed aside.

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Hervé, Representative of the children of the Kasai Occidental Province

Nobertine’s is not the only case. Two more of our friends have had the same problem. After his flight to Kinshasa was canceled, Hervé from Kasai Occidental was forced to travel by motorcycle overnight to get to Mbuji Mayi, where he joined Leslie from Kasai Oriental. Again, their flight was canceled. Our two friends were finally able to take a commercial flight on May 28th at the last minute. Incidentally, they had already been deplaned from a commercial flight the day before in favor of more affluent passengers.

Despite these obstacles, we were all finally able to meet in Kinshasa. But this was only the beginning.

According to the itinerary, we were supposed to fly to Bukavu, then drive the rest of the way to Bujumbura. Unfortunately, once again, the flight to Bukavu was canceled. To overcome this new obstacle, it was decided that we would leave for Bujumbura from the Nairobi airport. However, once at the airport, even though all our papers were in order, a lack of communication between the head office of the Directorate General for Migration and its airport cell caused a delay. And only once the aircraft had closed its doors did the DGM officials finally give us permission to embark. Alas, we could no longer board the plane as the walkway had just been removed.

Despite all these challenges, the team is determined to go the distance for peace in the Great Lakes Region.

Nothing can stop us!

Last minute information: The delegation of children managed to board a flight in Kinshasa today, May 29th, and should be landing in Bujumbura in the evening.

Photos: Unicef DRC/Adrien Majourel/2014

Translated from French by Jennifer Smithson

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Déo Deo a 17 ans, il est enfant reporter et finaliste au collège Kivuvu à Bandundu. Il a représenté les enfants de la RDC au Forum de l'espoir des enfants à Bujumbura en juin 2014. Il fut élu ambassadeur du Forum de l'espoir et a représenté les enfants de la Région des grands Lacs au sommet Spécial de la CIRGL sur l'emploi des jeunes. Pour lui, être enfant Reporter est une opportunité qui lui permet de plaider pour l'amélioration de la situation des enfants de sa communauté

Déo is 17 years old, he is a Young Reporter and a student in final year in KIVUVU High School in Bandundu. Deo has represented Congolese childre at the Forum of Hope in Bujumbura in 2014. He was elected as an Amabassador of Hope and represented children from the Great Lakes region at the Special ICGLR Summit on Youth Employment. For him, being a child reporter gives him an opportunity to advocate on improving the situation on children in his community.

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