To love peace is to prepare children for it

Listen to this cry for peace from Hugues, a young reporter from Bukavu, in the east of the DRC.

As a young reporter and Ambassador of Hope, I very much want to demonstrate the importance of preparing children for living in peace. Those under 18 need to be prepared before they can comprehend a country that is not at war, or experience harmony and understanding between members of a group, and the reconciliation and tranquillity of a family.

It seems to me that adults simply abandon children in order to look after themselves.

For example, when decision-makers fail to build libraries, cinemas and recreational facilities for children, which is the case where I live in South Kivu. How can children improve their knowledge, read or become creative if there are no cultural spaces provided for them?

And education and training should not be restricted only to adult: without training for the under 18s, how will they acquire the skills they need for the future?

The authorities abandon children when they do not build schools in rural areas or do not give them the school equipment they need.

Take the case of the school in Maziba in Walungu territory in South Kivu, which has no desks or teaching materials whatsoever. Yet children walk more than four kilometres across hills and rivers to reach it. And on top of this, their teachers are unmotivated.

How do children find the courage to go to school in such conditions, and what can they possibly learn there?

Adults forget that children are agents of change in the community, and that they will become adults too. When a child is not educated, he becomes an ignorant adult, and, as a young man, there is a danger that he will take up arms against his country or the neighbouring community just because he is not educated, because he is ignorant. This happens to far too many young people in my province.

However, if a child is well-prepared through education, as he grows up he will steer away from wrongdoing and will respect authority, his parents, his neighbours and others.

Because his education will have empowered him to understand, he will obey the laws of his country. He will love foreigners rather than wishing them harm. He could also be influential in his own right, and for the whole community.

Let’s take the case of Noël*, a boy who was a child soldier with the rebels, where he served as a carrier. Now that he has left the armed group, Noël told me that being a child soldier had deprived him of all hope in life. But more recently, because he started studying, he has shown me that he has the potential to lead his town, his province and many other things.

Preparing a child for the future also means remaining close to him, guiding him to do good and avoid evil, and teaching him about dialogue, negotiating skills, simplicity and mediation in all aspects of his life.

When a child is prepared in this way, he becomes the pride of his parents, his brothers and sisters and all who know him. Let us prepare children so that they may be worthy to inherit their community and to lead it into the future.

Let’s not forget: “Prevention is better than cure”.

* The name has been changed.

Photo: UNICEF RDC 2013 Brett Morton.

Translated from French by Sally Axon.

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Hugues est parlementaire des enfants à Bukavu, dans la province du Nord Kivu. Il étudie à l'Institut Bangu en section littéraire et rêve de travailler pour l'enfance, car l'enfant est toujours victime. Il s’est engagé dans le club de paix de chez lui et aime beaucoup son adage "qui aime la paix prépare l'enfant et non la guerre".

Hugues is a children’s parliamentarian in Bukavu, North Kivu. He studies in the literary section of the Institut Bangu and dreams of working for childhood, because the child is always a victim. He has joined the peace club in his neighbourhood and very much likes his motto “whoever loves peace prepares children not war”.

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