The Djugu territory, located in Ituri Province, is generally known for its golden quarries that exploit many children. Often, gold passes before education. But another reality exists in the territory of Djugu: children who must work to be able to pay their school fees.
Mongbwalu is one of the great mining cities of Djugu territory. 15 kilometers away is the Pilipili village where I met Mave, a 12-year-old girl.
Orphaned father, Mave lives since his birth alone with his mother. Since the death of her husband in a landslide in one of the quarries of Djugu while she was pregnant, the mother does small agricultural work.
Mave considers herself lucky because unlike the majority of children in her village, she goes to school. “I’m in fifth grade. From Monday to Saturday, I go every day in class,” explains the girl.
A few minutes later, the girl told me that in order to pay her school fees, she wakes up every Sunday at 4 am to go to Mongbwalu to sell sombé (cassava leaves). “This is the big trip: with my sombé on the head, I walk to Mongbwalu, which is 15 kilometers from the village.”
Counting the return trip, the girl travels 30 kilometers each Sunday. “It’s far but I have to do it,” says Mave. Indeed, although the school is theoretically free in the DRC, it is far from being a reality for every Congolese child.
Mave managed to raise a little over 5,000 Congolese francs (approximately US $ 3) each Sunday from the sale of sombé. This money allows her to pay her school fees but also to help pay for food at home. Without that, the girl would have had to give up classes, whereas she likes to study so much.
A meeting that changed the life of Mave
Every Sunday, Mave goes to the market to pay for her school fees, depriving her of time to do her homework and prepare lessons. At home too, the girl has to deal with heavy tasks.
“As I am 12 years old, Mom tells me to draw 12 cans of water after classes,” says Mave. The girl goes on to explain that she has to travel a little over a kilometer to get water and that “the number of cans is increasing compared to my age”.
Fortunately one day, Mave met Taylor. A former member of the Ituri Children’s Listening Club, he was amazed to see every Sunday a young girl at the market selling sombé. As a child rights activist, he tried to find out more about Mave’s situation.
“I explained the situation that I live in,” recalls Mave. “Later, he came to the village to talk with my mom. He explained to her the different rights that I have, as a child “. In support of his speech, Taylor made reference to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Child Protection Act.
Since that day, the young Mave draws only one or two cans of water per day and Mave no longer goes to Mongbwalu to sell cassava leaves. It is Mave’s mom who sells items to pay school fees. “His exchange with Mom has completely changed my life,” concludes Mave smiling
Taylor is very pleased to see that Mave now has time for homework and preparing lessons. A child must be able to live his childhood and not have adult responsibilities. According to Taylor, everyone should “commit to promoting the rights of children around him”. Indeed, living in ignorance of these rights contributes to their violation.
More info about child labour in DRC:
David a rejoint le Club d'Ecoute pour Enfants en 2012. Deux ans après, il en est devenu le porte-parole puis en 2015, le coordonnateur. La même année, David est devenu Enfant Reporter. Il présente également diverses émissions sur les droits de l'Enfant. "Parler des droits de l'Enfant via les médias, c'est ma préférence". David étudie le droit à Bunia et rêve de travailler à la défense des droits des plus vulnérables.
David joined the Children's Listening Club in 2012. Two years later, David became the spokesperson and in 2015 the coordinator. That same year, David became a child reporter. Since 2014, David has hosted various programmes on child rights. "I want to use the media to talk about child rights”. David studies law in Bunia and dreams of working to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. He says he will always work for children.
Latest posts by David (see all)
- Child Reporters: what do they become afterwards? - 4 February 2019
- Displaced by the violence, Shukuru dreams of resuming his normal life - 31 January 2019
- “Giving birth was a moment of both joy and sadness at the same time” - 31 December 2018
- Children’s education in Haut Uélé is a priority - 21 December 2018
- Working to go to school: a reality for Mave - 13 June 2018