Happy New Year to all of our supporters, in-country partners, and beneficiaries! 2015 is going to be a year where we hone our expertise not only to strengthen our existing programmes but to also extend our work to more hard-to-reach regions in East Africa.
At the end of last year, we announced the expansion of our work into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Many perhaps are unaware of the dire situation in DRC due to the lack of media coverage. Along with the inadequate attention given to children and young peoples’ education, corruption, on-going armed conflict, and sexual violence, DRC is failing to implement child protection practices thus deeply violating children’s rights. And while the Law of Child Protection has been put into effect in DRC since January 2009, six years passed, children continue to face injustice largely due to widespread poverty and the State’s meagre resources to properly implement the Law.
As experts in child protection and children’s rights for over 20 years and having worked successfully in neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Uganda, we recognise the urgent need to put an end to children’s suffering in DRC. This year, we will bring our work to the eastern region of DRC where violence remains ubiquitous and many are seeking opportunities to rehabilitate from traumatic events. We aim to provide vocational training and psychosocial support to former child soldiers, especially girls, who were recruited to fight in rebel groups. We also want to make sure that the country’s Child Protection Law is fully effective in the region. This means that children in conflict with the law should undergo fair trials and while imprisoned, they should receive adequate care. We also aim to introduce a diversion programme where these young people are given a chance to reintegrate back into their communities through non-custodial sentences.
We hope 2015 will bring new hope to those living in the eastern region of DRC. We are excited to take on this challenge and have our supporters with us every step of the way! Please regularly check our social media platforms and website for updates on our work in DRC and we look forward to begin creating promising impact in the lives of Congolese children and young people this new year.