Children On The Frontline
Portrait of Tshilembi, 15, in a rehabilitation centre in Kananga, Kasaï region, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). (*Name changed)
sponsored centre helps children formerly associated with militias to make the transition back to their families and communities. “My favourite animal is the goat. Because it makes baby goats. I love baby goats. I used to play with them when I was home before joining the militia. My parents didn’t have the money to send me to school so I was staying at the village all day. I joined the movement to be protected, because both military and militiamen were arresting people. I was in the movement because I was told I would save the country. I thought I was defending it.
Today my main concerned is to be able to study. But I don’t have any money to pay for school fees and school books. One day I would like to become a driver, and I would like to drive only trucks.” Violence in DRC’s Kasaï region has inflicted a devastating toll on children since fighting flared in August 2016. Children are being used by militias in combat to fight and kill, and as human shields.