Africa

From Child Soldiers To Carpenters In The Democratic Republic of Congo

Volunteers from around the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) commemorated the International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2022 through a range of activities mirroring the theme of IVD, ‘Solidarity through volunteering – Together, Act Now.’ 

To mark IVD 2022, UN Volunteers lend support to APROJED under the Actions and Projects for Sustainable Development, an organization in Turunga, a Nyiragongo municipality on the outskirts of Goma. 

This organization houses a training facility formed in 2006. Here, former child soldiers and vulnerable children are taught practical life skills, such as carpentry. So far, this training facility has trained and imparted vocational training to more than 600 children. UNV in the DRC provided advanced construction tools including hammer drills and generators, thus switching from traditional to modern tools. 

In previous decades, the Eastern Province of the DRC witnessed fighting, which has recently intensified. Volunteers in the region are aware that they are the ones who can bring about some positive contributions, and that is the reason that volunteer efforts continue despite the ongoing challenges to peace.

Seventeen year-old, Angel, is a student at the APROJED center.

“I am training in carpentry. Coming from armed groups, it was difficult for me to arrive here. I aim to make the most of this opportunity I’ve been given. To give back to my community and never go back to my past life. I thank UNV for contributing to our learning,” he says.

The support from UNV makes sure that APROJED has a positive influence on the training of these young people.  

“I want to thank all the volunteers from across the world who had these young people from armed groups on their mind this IVD. These children, who had previously been traumatized by armed groups and using weapons, now have smiles on their faces thanks to United Nations Volunteers. We appreciate your donation of machines and construction equipment. You support these former child soldiers to integrate into society and improve the economy. Your donation will increase the quality of training and inspire the workers. Previously, we only utilized traditional tools.” — Guillain Punzu, APROJED Director. 

Also on IVD 2022, UN Volunteers from Bunia provided over 500 boxes of medicines to Saint Kizito orphanage in Ituri province. In addition, a town hall meeting was held with Khasim Diagne, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Protection and Operations in United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) in the DRC. 

“Volunteers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are the large workforce that make a vital contribution to the operations of the Funds, Agencies, and Programmes, as well as the mission’s mandate.” — Khasim Diagne, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Protection and Operations in MONUSCO, DRC. 

The underpinning message of volunteers making a difference through SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions was given by Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO in the DRC. 

“The celebration of International Volunteer Day reminds us of the positive impact everyone can have in the pursuit of peace and development. We pay tribute to the many volunteers of the UN system in the DRC and elsewhere in the world.” — Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO in the DRC.  

Today, there are more than 500 UN volunteers deployed in the DRC, including 300 in the UN Peacekeeping Mission

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