In May 2021, Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes, erupted. The Kibati Centre, run by our partner, Children’s Voice, was cut off by flowing lava. The eruption left trails of destruction half a mile wide with over 500 houses buried by lava. Thousands of families were forced to flee to the border for safety and many have now become internally displaced living in makeshift and temporary camps. Sadly, following the eruption, it has been estimated that more than 30 people were killed. But due to the already precarious humanitarian situation, whereby Eastern DRC has been subject to decades of violence by armed groups, the true devastation of the eruption is still unknown.
Many people were displaced into makeshift camps
During this critical time, we supported our partner, Children’s Voice, to respond to the immediate needs of the local community. The volcanic eruption destroyed infrastructure and businesses, leaving families with nothing. Families lost all their belongings. At this time Children’s Voice were able to provide necessities like food and water to survive; they distributed emergency food parcels to 1,359 families and installed a water tank that provided safe drinking water to more than 2,780 households. It sounds so simple but by just supplying water to the overcrowded camps, families were better able to protect themselves from the risk of disease. To prevent an outbreak of Covid-19, Children’s Voice provided 12,500 people with information about how to stay safe and prevent the transmission of the virus. This included the distribution of information leaflets, awareness classes and camp-wide question and answer sessions using megaphones. In response to these campaigns, a ‘Fight Against Coronavirus Disease’ Club was formed by camp residents who are supported by Community Leaders. They have been empowered to continue educating fellow residents and raising awareness of Covid-19 protection and prevention measures.
This information was crucial to families, as Mado explains:
“Currently I live in the Kanyanja disaster camp. When the volcano erupted, I lost my house and two fields, and I thought it was the end for my children and I. After arriving at the camp I did not have much hope for the future as I relied on my fields to earn an income. The first week here was very difficult. But thanks to Children’s Voice I still have hope. They gave us water, oil, beans and maize flour, taught us how to fight against disease. All I can say is thank you. You have saved my life and those of my children. “
Our partner, Children’s Voice, supplied essentials such as water and food to displaced families
The eruption forced schools to temporarily close, removing the one safe space that children could rely on. Children’s Voice worked tirelessly to ensure that children were able to continue studying by supplying school kits, uniforms, and textbooks to 80 children. Although it has been a difficult transition, children have now been able to return to their school community, are making friends and are able to learn in a safe space once again. With the help of their teachers, who have been given teaching materials, the children are slowly but surely developing their self-esteem in school and are determined to keep on learning.
“My 8 children and I were the victims of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano eruption. I want to thank Children’s Voice for thinking of us. They have brought us water, relieving us of our misfortune. Thanks to you we can wash the little clothes we have left and ourselves, and drink without difficulty. My children had lost their school materials, and the gestures you have made in providing these little things … words fail me.” Chitundu told us.
Without this help, families like Mado and Chitundu’s would have struggled to survive and their children would not have been able to stay in school. Thankfully the Kibati Centre survived the eruption and is providing a much needed safe place where children feel safe during these challenging times. The long-term effects of this disaster are still not over but the Kibati centre means that vulnerable children can speak to trusted adults and are supported to overcome the issues they face and the trauma they have experienced. Thank you for your support in making this possible and ensuring that no child is forgotten.
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