At the grand old age of 15, Héritier spends his days collecting leftover beans from the markets of Goma, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He sorts them and then re-sells them just to get by. For over 5 years Héritier has found shelter on the streets. “I hope to become President of the Republic one day and lead Congo”, Héritier firmly believes in his dream even if it looks bleak.
Héritier, an uncertain path
Since 2010 the streets of the tourist city of Goma are filled with children like Héritier fleeing the violence and fighting. “It was during the war that my mother and I fled our village”, tells Héritier explaining his arrival in Goma. The young boy continues “during our journey I got lost and found myself alone”, and since that day he is forced to live on the streets due to the lack of children’s centres. In the city of Goma there is not even a government supported centre.
“Sometimes we get ill due to the lack of drinking water, decent accommodation and health care”, worries Héritier. “I really want to go to school in order to make my wildest dreams come true”, says Héritier, who wants to become the President of the DRC.
Héritier’s future and that of all the so-called street children is very bleak and the authorities are uninterested. However, it is of paramount importance and should concern the whole country.
Children should be with family and not on the streets
The war experienced in eastern DRC is at the root of the phenomenon of so-called street children observed in Goma. This caused the mass displacement of populations, influences the lack of jobs for parents and impacts child education and development.
According to article 17 of the Child Protection Act, “every child has the right to a family environment; the best setting in which their material, moral and emotional needs are taken into account to support their development”. The Congolese authorities must become more involved in reuniting each child with their family, a children’s centre and/or a school. I ask for:
- – The creation of children’s centres;
- – Free access to primary and secondary education;
- – Access to health care;
- – Peace consolidation in order to resolve displacement.
If nothing is done, the nation will have no one to turn to in the future!
Kindly translated from French by Lorraine Valarino
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