Toussaint, 17, Singing For Peace and Education in Goma

The chorus of the Swahili version of the song “Happy”, it’s him. Toussaint, 17, is a young musician from Goma. On 16th June, he sang in the concert dedicated to the Day Of The African Child in Goma, 2 weeks after representing the children of the North Kivu province at the Forum of Hope in Bujumbura. Toussaint has been an ambassador of the UNICEF supported Back To School campaign in North Kivu,  encouraging the schooling of all children without distinction for 3 years now

Why do you participate in the campaign Happy from Goma?

I participate in the #HappyfromGoma campaign because in my city, Goma, despite the wars, we can always find a way to bring joy. Some children’s rights are respected and this is cause for our happiness. For instance, I go to school and so do other children. Thanks to my talent, I can express myself freely. I also participated in the Forum of Hope to be able to communicate with high-profiled people such as Mary Robinson. All of this encouraged me to express my joy. And it’s really fun.

The Forum of Hope and Happy from Goma: why do you want to become a peace ambassador?

As an artist, I wanted to participate in the Forum of Hope and in the #HappyfromGoma campaign to contribute to the search for peace in my region in general, and in my country in particular. During the war, I am not free to sing and all of the rights of all of the children are not respected. 

How did you feel after being chosen to participate in the Forum of Hope?

To be able to participate in the Forum of Hope was a dream-like experience, a miracle even. Thirty children of North Kivu province competed for this opportunity. There were people better than me, with better eloquence and initiation for these kinds of activities. However, when the provincial jury announced that I was among the chosen, I felt so proud. I was very lucky. This has allowed me to see and dream big because I was leaving my country for the very first time and was also going to show my talent outside of home. Therefore, I found the courage to work hard.

What has the Forum of Hope been able to reap? 

It was an amazing experience for all the children of the region because we got to share our cultures. We learned to use paintings and videos to convey our pleas. We formulated some recommendations that include: the installation of a regional children’s parliament, the follow-up and execution of children’s rights, the assumption of responsibility of all refugees in general and children refugees in particular, the elaboration of a law that would punish the culprits who violate children’s rights and the fight against malnutrition.

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The theme of this year’s African Child Day is education. What do you think about it?

I have been an ambassador of the Back to School campaign for 3 years. Education is the foundation of life because without education I could not become a good musician. It is through education that a country has good leaders. The only message that I wish to convey to our authorities and to parents is to guarantee education for all children and that we can study in peace.

Do you have a dream for the children of North Kivu and of the DRC?

I dream of the day when I can see all the children of my country rejoice in their rights and that they have the freedom to play to the rhythm of my music whilst being well educated, in good health, etc.

Photos: UNICEF DRC 2014 Kelvin Batumike
Translated from French by Ahou Koutchesfahani
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Kelvin Batumike

Ancien Enfant Reporter et passionné par la défense des droits des enfants,Kelvin Batumike s'est donné pour mission de promouvoir les talents des jeunes afin de leur permettre de prendre leurs responsabilités pour le développement du pays.

Former Child Reporter and avocating for children’s rights since a very young age , Kelvin Batumike has taken it upon himself to promote young people and their talents so as to enable them to assume their responsibilities for the development of the DR Congo.

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