Starting all over again at 65

Photo: UNICEF DRC Longa

“I have to fight every day,” says 65-year-old Alphonsine. When the intracommunity conflicts ravaging the province of Tanganyika hit her village of Rutuku, Alphonsine had no choice but to flee, leaving her entire life behind.

“The pygmies gave themselves up to terrible killings by arrows and the lucky ones got away with serious injuries”, she recalls. Since that night in November 2017, Alphonsine and her five grandchildren have taken refuge in Katanika 2 camp, on the outskirts of the city of Kalemie.

To be able to feed her grandchildren, Alphonsine cuts wood every day, sells ember or cassava leaves to earn about 2,000 Congolese francs (US $1.25). “I use it to buy flour and some fry.”

As Alphonsine and her family survived from day to day, a fire ravaged the camp. Nothing could be saved in the hut and the family’s meagre possessions went up in smoke: two cans, plates and pans, loincloths and a mat.

Photo: UNICEF DRC Longa

The fire that occurred on May 26, 2018 burned about 2,000 huts, making displaced families even more vulnerable. UNICEF distributed essential household items to affected families to help them recover. “I received a bucket, a can, soap and goblets. We had nothing so those items are very useful to me,” explains Alphonsine.

The grandmother of five doesn’t know if she will ever be able to return to her village. At 65 years old and having lost everything, Alphonsine must start from scratch. UNICEF supports displaced families in camp Katanika 2 through the Rapid Response to Population Movements programme.

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Mandela Longa Ntutula

Ancien Enfant Reporter de Kalemie formé par l’UNICEF, Mandela Longa Ntutula est aujourd'hui journaliste et continue son combat en encadrant la nouvelle génération d’Enfants Reporters.

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