We are children not soldiers!

In celebration of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Reporter in the Democratic Republic of Congo launched messages asking to end the use of children in armed groups and forces.

I ask myself (Melissa, 15, Kananga)

12 February, a day dedicated to child soldiers
Why a kid has to be a soldier when his place is in school?
Why doe he need to have a weapon when he should be holing a plume to draw down his future?
Why does a child have to serve in an armed group to kill, vandalize, and burn all on his way?
Why do adults let him do so without trying to stop him?
You and I, children of the whole world, our place is not in armed conflicts but rather in where peace and security reign.
Together, let’s fight the phenomenon of child soldiers!

A better future (Francois, 13, Beni)

A child’s place is in education and not with the militia where they are introduced to causing death. We want free and mandatory schooling for all children in hope for a better future.

A heartfelt appeal (Gloria, 14, Kananga)

My raised alarm comes from a reality that some ill spirited people wish to hide.
A reality that annoys the bigger ones.
A palpable reality in a country facing growing insecurity that is causing victims everyday.
Armed groups are preventing children from living their childhood.

The reality in question is as you guessed, CHILD SOLDIERS.
Those children are taken from the streets, distressed, and unaccompanied. They are taken to engage in war sometimes even against their own families.
Children are snatched and diverted from their destiny and deprived of their dreams.

It’s in the name of those children that I am expressing myself.
It’s to those vulnerable beings that I am talking.
It’s the name of those kids that I am expressing myself.
It’s to those vulnerable beings that I am addressing.

Open your ears and your eyes to see where you are growing without a choice, where you can’t enjoy your rights, deprived of your liberty, where you are used as a killing machine.

As you come into the world, you had a dream. Fulfill it by saying no to being used as a soldier!

A pencil instead of a weapon (Child Reporters from Alfajiri College, Bukavu)

There are too many children victims of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some ill intended people see the fragility of the children, exploit it, and manipulate children by making false promises. Ignorance and hunger create child soldiers.

Let’s build schools and eradicate hunger in order to fight against this form of abuse!

Little soldier (Marina, 14, Kananga)

You’re only about ten years old and you’re an orphan,
A wicked person abducted your parents,
It is the WAR!

And to survive, you have been forced to join the army!
In order to not starve to death
But will you be able to witness a war and kill
As if you were getting a candy?

I know!
You think that war is a game and you play the little soldier
You throw grenades as if you were throwing stones,
In a pond, to follow the movement of the fish.
But do not forget that they will name you
CHILD SOLDIER!

Soldier, soldier, where do you come from?
Do not continue this game, it will completely destroy you.
Leave this soldier world and never come back!
Do not leave childhood, you will be an adult when time comes.
Leave this life of soldier because I do not want them, to ever again, call you CHILD SOLDIER!

Translated from French by Dorsaf N. James

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Pona Bana

Pona Bana, qui signifie « pour les enfants » en lingala, est le blog des jeunes en République Démocratique du Congo. Lieu d’échange et d’information, Pona Bana est également un instrument pour encourager la participation des enfants.

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