Participants in the carpentry class. (Photo courtesy LAV). 

Thousands of Congolese children have been forcibly recruited into the various armed groups throughout the region. These children, in addition to the hundreds of thousands who have been orphaned or abandoned, are living on Congo’s dangerous streets, impoverished and vulnerable to violence.

In partnership with Laissez l’Afrique Vivre/Let Africa Live (LAV), JWW is sponsoring the reintegration of 50 former child soldiers. This program provides the children with vocational and professional skills training, basic education, medical and psychosocial care, and support for their burgeoning businesses once they graduate.

Bachoke, 24, became the primary caretaker for his family when both his parents died:

I happen to complete a lot of pieces in my workshop and sell them. My future project is to buy land on which to build a house. Then I can get married…There are youth wasting their time strolling in the streets and doing drugs. I tell them that it is not a good path to follow. I ask them to respect themselves and register at LAV to change their lives and take care of themselves.Bachoke

Pascaline, 19, has also been deeply affected by the program:

I am the mother of a one-year-old boy. My choice was focused on sewing among the other areas. We began the apprenticeship four months ago in the LAV center at Luhwindja in Mwenga territory. We have already learned several things by making clothes: mechanization of a machine, the different kinds of machines, several types of fashion, how to make children’s clothing, and learning how to sew with a machine. I can now sew the clothes, sell them, and earn money to care for my child.Pascaline
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About Our Partner - Let Africa Live (Laissez L'Afrique Vivre: LAV)
Let Africa Live (Laissez L’Afrique Vivre: LAV) is a non-profit organization operating in Bukavu, eastern DRC. Founded March 15, 2000 by a group of young professionals and officially recognized by the Congolese government, the Mission of LAV is to contribute to the creation and strengthening of mechanisms for the socio-economic reintegration of youth victimized by the wars and armed conflicts in the east of the DRC.