It’s six weeks on from the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, which took lives, destroyed homes and led to thousands of children going missing. 400,000 people fled the nearby city of Goma as flowing lava destroyed essential infrastructure. Thirty people died while 4,000 houses have been destroyed and a further 1,000 are in urgent need of repairs. In the panic, around 1,400 children became separated from their parents.
Thankfully, the tremors have now subsided. Most of those who fled have returned to Goma. And the Kibati Centre, the school we support in Northern Kivu through Children’s Voice (our local partner) survived the earthquake and was able to reopen on 14th June. In an area dominated by war and conflict, where 40% of children are out of school, the Kibati Centre is a lifeline to ensure children can access an education.
However, around 400 children are still missing. The North Kivu region is home to an estimated 130 different armed groups. Boys are regularly recruited as child soldiers. Girls are forced to be ‘wives’ for senior commanders. Missing children are facing huge risks. It’s critical that we help these children get back to school. Not only so they can continue their education, but so they have access to a safe space and trusted adults they can speak to about the trauma they’ve experienced.
We’ve provided emergency support to Children’s Voice through this difficult period. Children’s Voice has been working tirelessly to identify the children who are missing and reunite them with their families.
Children in Goma returned to school in June, but 400 are still missing
A difficult time ahead
The volcanic eruption destroyed mains water pipes, electricity cables, farms and businesses. It’s going to take time to rebuild. But right now, the destruction of infrastructure is leaving children and families at risk.
Without water and sanitation, cholera has become a serious threat. Young children and the undernourished are most at risk. And outbreak would be devastating for the most vulnerable groups.
All of this is taking place in the context of rising Covid-19 cases. A third wave is under way, with an exponential rise in cases being driven by the South African and Delta variants. However, the vast majority of people are unable to access a test, let alone the necessary health care if they need it. Many families can’t afford masks to protect themselves and others, and misinformation is rife meaning more families are at risk.
During this time, the Kibati Centre is more important than ever. It provides a place where children feel safe. Here, they can speak to trusted adults and are supported to overcome the issues they face and the trauma they have experienced. Right now, it will make a huge difference to hundreds of children. It will allow them to look ahead, and learning in a safe environment will give them every chance to have a bright future.
Your support means children can access quality, inclusive education and a safe space at the Kibati Centre. £35 could train a Learning Support Assistant to provide one-on-one help to a child with disabilities!