• Hope through education
    What does education mean to children in DR Congo?
  • Supporting young refugees in DRC
    Reaching Out
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DR Congo

Providing children and youth with education, protection and vital psychosocial support to improve future prospects.

National context

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has experienced more than 20 years of internal conflict. This dire humanitarian situation has been compounded by a series of epidemics and natural disasters - leaving a legacy of poverty and instability.

Political tension inside DRC is increasing. The 2016 decision by President Joseph Kabila to propose changes to the constitution - which opposition groups claim was designed to allow Kabila to extend his rule indefinitely - was met with nationwide outbreaks of violence.

A fragile truce was established following an agreement to set up a transitional government to be followed by elections - yet elections have yet to be held and this truce is coming under strain. A recent influx of refugees has further raised tensions. DRC hosts some 430,000 registered refugees from eight different countries. The country is also home to some 1.9 million internally displaced persons.

Tension is particularly high in the east of DRC. In South Kivu province violence takes many forms - in clashes for territory between armed ethnic groups, border skirmishes with forces from neighbouring states and the operations of criminal gangs.

Situation of children

Children in DRC face multiple threats to their safety. Attacks on schools and hospitals are frequent and the necessary structures to protect children are often not in place. The widespread lack of livelihood opportunities means that the recruitment of youth into armed groups is common - joining armed groups gives young people a sense of belonging, pride and economic prospects.

This violent context means that educational opportunities are scarce. Some 3.5 million children aged below 11 are out of school. Nearly half (44 per cent) of children begin their education after the age of six. Barriers to education include the presence of armed groups, population displacement, discrimination and damage to infrastructure. 

 

What we do

War Child Holland has been active in DRC since 2003. Our programmes combine education, child protection and psychosocial support to uphold the rights of children. We primarily work in the South Kivu province in eastern DRC - in the territories of Fizi, Kalehe and Walungu.

War Child Holland addresses the education needs of children from refugee and displaced populations, as well as host communities. We also provide vital psychosocial support to children, youth and the important adults in their lives.

In all our interventions we build the capacity of parents, caregivers and the wider community to take up their responsibilities towards children. This ‘community-based approach’ places children at the centre of our work - and helps build their strength and resilience. 

 

Our projects

Addressing Root Causes of Conflict

Initiative contributing to stability in the Kalehe territory in eastern DRC. The goals of the project include initiatives to improve governance, conflict resolution activities and vocational training courses to improve economic opportunities for young people. 

Good Schools, Safe Schools

This project is designed to ensure that children can access quality education in a safe and supportive environment.

Care and Education for Refugee Children and Children Affected by Conflict

Project in South Kivu province to promote the protection of children affected by armed conflict. Activities to strengthen community-based child protection mechanisms are central to this project.

Strengthening Protection and Improving Access to Quality Education

Project to support children and youth living in the Lusenda refugee camp in eastern DRC through enhanced protection and catch-up education. The project also serves to strengthen the ability of parents and caregivers to provide ongoing support to vulnerable children.

Voices of children

Sifa Loves to Learn

Some 500,000 refugees have fled Burundi since April 2015 to escape violence and civil unrest. Half of these refugees are children - children like 12-year-old Sifa. Sifa and her family found a new home in DRC after a difficult journey to safety. Sifa now takes part in War Child’s programme for child refugees. We support children like Sifa so they can play, learn and process their traumatic experiences. 

Sifa is now back in school - and she loves it. “We had to flee from Burundi so I couldn’t go to school anymore,” she explains. “I missed a lot of lessons. Here in DRC, I can finally go to school. I can learn again!“

War Child provides protection, psychosocial support and education to thousands of Burundian children in DRC. We provide the space for children to process their traumatic experiences, rebuild their confidence and contribute towards a better future - both for themselves and their communities.

Sifa can already imagine a better future for herself. “My parents taught me that I should do my best,” she says.

“I want to learn more so that I can become a doctor.”