Our visit to the Transit and Orientation Centre in Goma

UNICEF RDC 2016 CTO CAJED-5On Tuesday 10th May 2016, we, Nadia, Laetitia and Jospin, young reporters of Goma visited the Transit and Orientation Centre (CTO) of the Council for Action for Disadvantaged Children and Young People (CAJED).  At the same time as our visit, the CTO was visited by a delegation from a Swedish donor, with whom we witnessed the range of training which the children at this centre receive.  On a social level, there was music, art, capoeira and basket-making, as well as the educational training in literacy, English, French, reading and writing.

A centre for vulnerable children

The centre started operating with so-called ‘street children’ in 1992.  Then, confronted by the phenomenon of child recruitment into armed forces and groups, the centre directed its efforts towards demobilising, supporting and reintegrating these children into their families.

In the centre, children learn skills that will help them reintegrate their community.

In the centre, children learn skills that will help them reintegrate their community.

They are truly in safe hands

We talked with Mr Francois Landiech, who is responsible for monitoring Swedish grants for the support and reintegration of former child soldiers.  He shared his feelings : ” I believe that CAJED and UNICEF offer support for the education of these  children.  They are truly in safe hands.  Sweden has been active in the DRC since 1991 and we will continue to work to try to change the situation of these children and allow them to make a fresh start on the right foot.”

Mr Francois Landiech from Sweden visiting the Transit and Orientation Centre CAJED in Goma

Mr Francois Landiech from Sweden visiting the Transit and Orientation Centre CAJED in Goma

The manager of CAJED, who spoke to us about the running of the centre, thanked the Swedish visitors because their arrival brought increased hope of support for the reintegration of former child soldiers into families, and he called on others to act similarly : « With reintegration at around 50%, some children are benefitting from this but others are forced to continue waiting.  But with the help which we will receive, reintegrating the children will be easier and they will all be able to benefit.  Supporting us is a good thing for improving the reintegration of children into the community. »

We, the young reporters of Goma, interviewing an expert during the visit at the centre.

We, the young reporters of Goma, interviewing an expert during the visit at the centre.

The centre, a glimmer of hope

Not forgetting the children of CTO/CAJED, we talked to a 16 year old boy from the centre, an artist who uses his drawings to influence and engage his friends in peace-making while also appealing for harsh punishments for those who recruit and employ children in armed groups. « I am really pleased by the Swedish visit as it is a glimmer of hope that we will rejoin our own families.  And I encourage others who care about helping us, to do the same. »

The Transit and Orientation Centre offers a capoeira training to children released from armed groups and forces.

The Transit and Orientation Centre offers a capoeira training to children released from armed groups and forces.

A Latin proverb states : « Spes messis in semine », which means « the hope of the harvest is in the seed ».  The government and those NGOs concerned with child protection should, like the Swedish donor, join in by making a greater effort to ensure good support for these children, followed by improved reintegration into their families, schools and the wider community.

Dear Government of the Congo, please support those initiatives which privilege the interests of the child, for it is the support which they receive which will determine the children’s social, moral and intellectual behaviour.

Group photo with the Swedish, UNICEF and Transit and Orientation Centre teams after the visit

Group photo with the Swedish, UNICEF and Transit and Orientation Centre teams after the visit

Thanks to Sweden (SIDA), the USA (USAID), Canada (CIDA), Japan (JICA), the Netherlands, Belgium as well as UNICEF France, Amade, UNICEF Germany and previously CERF for their support to programmes assisting children released from armed groups and forces.

Article prepared and written by Nadia Issa with the help of Laetitia Malira and Jospin Benekire, all child reporters from Goma.

Photo:UNICEF RDC 2016 Justin Kasereka

Post translated from French by Julia Bayton

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Jospin Benekire

Jospin a 16 ans et fait partie de la nouvelle génération des enfants reporters de Goma. Il est également le porte-parole du parlement d’enfant depuis 2013. Il veut devenir journaliste international ou avocat des droit humains pour améliorer la situation des enfants. Ce qu’il préfère dans le fait d’être enfant reporter : « faire des articles et des reportages sur la situation des enfants pour renforcer notre plaidoyer et faire comprendre aux décideurs les problèmes ».

Jospin is 16 years old and is part of the new generation of young reporters from Goma. He is also the spokesman of the child Parliament since 2013. He wants to become an international journalist or a lawyer in human rights to improve the situation of children. What he loves about being a young reporter: "make articles and reports on the situation of children to strengthen our advocacy and expose the problems to the policymakers."

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