On Sunday 30 August 2015, His Excellency Mauro Vieira, Brazil’s Minister of External Relations, accompanied by His Excellency Paulo Uchoa, the Brazilian ambassador to the DRC, a UNICEF team and three Young Reporters from Goma, visited the transit and orientation centre for children who have left armed groups and forces (CAJED) in Goma to see and understand the lives of the children there, but also to experience the impact capoeira has on their lives.
HE Mauro and his delegation attended a capoeira demonstration by children who were previously involved in armed groups and armed forces, and talked with the CAJED centre managers.
The Capoeira for Peace project was launched in Goma in August 2014 and is funded by the Brazilian Government and the Association Mondiale des Amis de l’Enfance (AMADE – World Association of Children’s Friends). Capoeira is combined with other methods such as psychosocial support, by giving children alternative activities to express themselves through.
Capoeira brings people together and makes them smile
Carried away by the dance, my fellow Young Reporters and I couldn’t resist jumping onto the dance floor to perform capoeira with the other children.
Personally, it made me feel happy, and I felt a strong link between us all. Capoeira is much more than a dance or a discipline – it’s like a link that brings people together, a way of getting rid of stress and making people smile.
At a press briefing, I was able to ask HE Mauro how his visit was going to contribute to help protect children in the DRC. Brazil’s Exterior Relations minister told me this: “Brazil is a partner of the Capoeira project. We will continue to contribute to it because it has been an extremely successful project. We want to play an active part in this project, and we are relying on the support of UNICEF and perhaps of other countries.”
After the briefing, HE Mauro talked with a child who had left an armed group or force and was in transit at the CAJED centre, in order to understand what these children have experienced.
Currently, 800 children benefit from the Capoeira project thanks to twice-weekly classes at the CAJED transit centre, the CAJED school and the PAMI (Programme d’Appui et de Lutte contre la Misère; Support Programme Fighting Poverty) day school. According to a recent perception study, 68% of children feel more free to express their needs and their feelings and 80% think that capoeira is a good tool for helping with and managing their feelings of sadness.
Capoeira allows me to forget the hard times
My Young Reporter friends and I made the most of the visit to talk to a friend who left an armed group or force. He told us about his past and said that the CAJED centre had changed his life, helping him to reintegrate into society. He also told us how important capoeira is to him:
“I’m 17, and I’ve been in the centre for 4 months. Before I came here, I was in the army, where life was terrible. I had to steal to survive, but here, I have almost everything. For me, capoeira is a very powerful tool that brings me closer to the other children here at the centre and enables me to forget the hard times I’ve gone through. I’m very happy to be able to practise this discipline.”
We would like to thank the Brazilian Government for the support it gives to UNICEF to help protect children in our country. At the same time, we call on the Congolese Government to strengthen the mechanisms to fight against the conscription of children into armed forces and groups.
Tomorrow’s Congo depends on us, the children of today. Protect us.
Kindly translated from French by Garen Gent-Randall
Jospin a 16 ans et fait partie de la nouvelle génération des enfants reporters de Goma. Il est également le porte-parole du parlement d’enfant depuis 2013. Il veut devenir journaliste international ou avocat des droit humains pour améliorer la situation des enfants. Ce qu’il préfère dans le fait d’être enfant reporter : « faire des articles et des reportages sur la situation des enfants pour renforcer notre plaidoyer et faire comprendre aux décideurs les problèmes ».
Jospin is 16 years old and is part of the new generation of young reporters from Goma. He is also the spokesman of the child Parliament since 2013. He wants to become an international journalist or a lawyer in human rights to improve the situation of children. What he loves about being a young reporter: "make articles and reports on the situation of children to strengthen our advocacy and expose the problems to the policymakers."
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