Democratic Republic of Congo
The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed more than five million lives - making it the planet's deadliest conflict since World War II.
But despite the horrific levels of sexual violence and millions of people displaced from their homes and schools, it remains Africa's forgotten war and rarely makes the headlines of the world's media.
Although the conflict has officially finished, much of the country remains desperately poor and the continuing fighting and widespread sexual violence in the eastern regions make it one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a woman.
What we're doing
Night Ambulance and Drop-In Centre
In Kinshasa we’re providing vital medical and emotional care to street children in one of the city’s most deprived districts. We run a Night Ambulance that tours the streets and alleys of Tshangu – looking for vulnerable young people in need of care. As well as the medical help, the social workers on the Ambulance can refer young women to our Drop-In Centre – a sanctuary from the dangers of the streets where the girls can begin to build a safer, independent life away from the streets.
Our telephone helplines are a lifeline for children who are being abused or mistreated. The free service puts them in touch with trained counsellors and social workers who can refer them to proper care providers, or in emergency cases, arrange for the children to be taken into protective care if they are in danger.
We’re providing training for the young women in Kinshasa who attend our Drop-In Centre. By teaching them skills in professions like hairdressing and tailoring, we can help them live independently and earn a sustainable income.
Challenging Attitudes & Changing Behaviours
We’re tackling the root cause of some of the problems by trying to change the way that local people and institutions treat the children. Many are unaware of what rights children have, and how they are often violated. We’re training the police, army, religious leaders and teachers about issues like corporal punishment or sexual violence against girls.
We’re also helping to educate the local street boys in Kinshasa too, as they are often the perpetrators of violence against girls and each other. Most have had no formal education and an extremely tough and often violent upbringing so it’s often the first solution to their problems.
Strengthening the Capacity of The Congolese Child Protection System
We’re mapping out all the agencies and institutions that provide services to young people in Kinshasa and Goma. This helps us identify any gaps where the social services, schools or community organisations aren’t providing a safety net to identify and protect vulnerable children. We can provide emergency assistance in the short term, but in the long term we’re training the local authorities to build a more comprehensive child protection system.
Providing an Emergency Response to the crisis in eastern Congo
The conflict between government forces and the M23 rebel group has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes since mid-2012. The fighting flares up at very short notice and the front-lines are rapidly changing. We provided some child-friendly spaces in the Kanyaruchinya camp that sprung up to accommodate 60,000 displaced people, and our partner organisation’s compound became a safe haven for tens of thousands of local people when the M23 rebels seized control of Goma.
We also built two ‘Child Friendly Spaces’ in rural areas of eastern Congo that provided counselling, education, and family reunification for almost 10,000 children who had fled their homes or had to leave school because of the conflict.
Your cash is vital in helping us provide urgent responses like these to children when a conflict crisis strikes. The ‘rapid response’ institutional funding (from the UN, DFID etc) can take weeks kick in, but the first 72 hours are crucial. By having a reserve of emergency funding set aside, we can set up vital Child Friendly spaces like these as an immediate priority. Watch our CEO Rob’s TED talk about emergency humanitarian funding.
Working with local partners
We work with a number of local partners in the DRC:
Œuvre de Suivi, Education, Protection des Enfants de la Rue
Concert d'Actions pour Jeunes et Enfants Défavorisés
Union pour la Paix et la Promotion des Droits de l'Enfant au Congo