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Following Miles' trip with Warchild

War Child catch up meeting

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A slightly later start this morning, leaving at 9am. That was good for me as I didn’t have the best nights sleep ever, both after what I’d seen yesterday, and also an incident in the early hours where I awoke from a dream where I’d been suffocating, to find that the mosquito net had fallen from it’s hangings on the ceiling and was smothering me.

First up today was a meeting at the War Child office going through the plans for the week for both those of us who are over here visiting, and also the local team in the Goma office.

2 of the War Child team here work for Comic Relief, but are seconded to War Child working together with CADERSCO on the child soldier project. It’s quite odd, but also very good, that whereby fundraising wise all of the NGO’s are in competition with one another and don’t tend to co-operate too much, in the field itself, everyone has their core competencies and work together as closely as possible, which is why the co-ordination project I wrote about yesterday is so important.

Then we had a proper briefing about the field work from Michele.

One of the big projects War Child are working on in Goma is in education. Not education as is reading and writing, but education of people in basic human rights. With the lack of possibilities for education here, and all the problems that war and conflict bring, what children are brought up to believe culturally is pretty astonishing to the point of being back in the middle ages.

The 3 main points War Child are trying to get across to people in Goma, particularly young girls, alongside their work with re-integrating child soldiers and street children are…

It’s not your fault if you’ve been raped, and rape should be reported.

Forced marriage against your will is not normal, and should be reported.

A teacher expecting sexual favours in return for better grades is not normal, and should be reported.

The last one really shocked me in particular, mainly as I was already well aware of the other 2. The school system in DRC is similar to that of the US, when you have to pass the class to be able to get into the next year and finish school. This leads to a lot of children in DRC still being in primary education into their teenage years, as they don’t exactly have a lot of time to study, what with avoiding the conflict and the work they need to do in the home.

This has lead to male teachers forcing children to have sex in what is known as “sex for points”. Unlike America though, 80% of female children drop out of school before they’ve passed through the primary stages, and a lot of this is put down to refusing to have sex for points.

Oh, and a really obvious one – being told you are a witch doesn’t mean you are one. Often if a family is struggling, they will try and persuade their local pastor that their child is a witch to give them an excuse to throw them out.

In the last 3 months, they have been able to host 5,429 people at these sessions which take place 20 times a month in different locations, with 130 adults and 279 children helping them as volunteers after training.

Out of these, 22 men and 31 women have been referred to projects that can help them, and 1,500 have been directly supported.

Something that War Child are working on now is working out a way to make this project self sustainable, particularly so that the volunteers can get some reward to continue doing what they’re doing and stay motivated.

We were then presented some stats regarding . Seeing as I would expect most people who are reading this blog are fans of FM, and therefore stats fans, I thought I’d share them

In May 2010 there were 1,010 incident reported in the Goma area. 72% of these are human rights violations. Typically only 1 in 500 violations are reported.

37% of these were armed robberies.

8% of these were sexual violence.

22 people were killed by the Congo army, mistaken for rebel army members.

There were 72 rapes, and 8 forced marriages reported in May.

Of those rapes, 20 were committed by civilians. The rest by the army or rebel groups.

Remember that these are only the ones that were reported, and typically only 1 in 500 are reported.
Between May 2010 & May 2011 there were 262 cases referred to WarChild involving war affected girls aged between 12 & 17 in the region.

14 were ex child soldiers

112 were victims of sexual violence

54 were teenage Mum’s with babies

15 were abandoned

110 were exploided

18 were accused of sorcery

61 were street girls

43 were children at risk of being “sold”

Age wise, 44 of them were just 12 years old.

There is abuse of girls younger that that too, but it’s rare that a case like that would be reported.

War Child were able to provide or assist with

178 medical consultations

2 referrals to Heal Africa

260 psychological support sessions

33 re-unifications

494 family visits (in advance of re-unification)

155 follow up meetings

3 people put into independent living programmes

One of the best projects for these children is run by Don Bosco, where they take in young girls who are in danger, teach them to read and write, and teach them a trade. And this afternoon we went off to see one of these projects, but I’ll blog about that later this evening.


One last thing before I go, although this is a bit flippant, so I apologise. As those of you who follow me on Twitter (@milessi) know, I buggered up my left wrist (I am right handed, before you ask) a few weeks back playing football. Thought it was all cured before I left, but it’s been really hurting, so we went off to look for a tubigrip type thing today which, of course, we couldn’t find.

We did find the next best thing though, which is a mini-splint. And why am I telling you this? Because the name of the product is “cock up”. Which I thought was quite appropriate.


Written by milesjacobson

June 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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