Day 28~ April 28th~ Congo

boys at work~ Goma

Working children is a concept that is becoming more and more foreign to us in the western world, but in developing countries, young children are often forced to join the work force. I find myself showing these images to my daughter on several occasions when a reality check and a need for the right perspective on life is needed.

These boys were paused near one of the wall murals that UNICEF paints on the city streets to educate children through art. It seems to be the right way to deliver a message, as I saw the children totally absorbed in deciphering the message until they saw me and diverted their attention to act playful for the camera.

Day 23~ April 23rd~ Congo

messages in art

It is difficult to imagine in our day of gadgets and the time of i-this and i-that available to everyone in the west even small children, that in some places like Congo, this is not the case at all.

And because of that, the children I met often asked me to take a message back with me from them to the world. They spoke mostly Swahili and through their translators they told me that they would like to draw these messages for me to photograph. So here, in the Cajed center for helping the children of the street, ‘les enfants de la rue’ in Kinshasa, the volunteer teacher allowed the children to take the time and draw some messages on the blackboard. And like the children that I met in Goma, these boys also dreamt of peace, of a world with no guns, of a colorful world that included them in it…

Then they went on to sing to me very playfully and very shyly their national anthem (video). After singing, they turned to me and requested that I sing my anthem to them, which I did, a bit more shyly than they did. I sang them the Lebanese anthem, because being with them brought me back to my childhood in Lebanon, or maybe it was the school desks that took me right back to elementary school. It was a very moving day for me meeting their bright faces and sharing unforgettable moments together.

 

 

Day 13~ April 13th~ Congo

"nous voulons la paix dans le monde"

“We want peace in the world”… Is that too much to ask?

Every child I spoke to in Congo told me the same thing, responded the same way when I asked them what their message to the world was, what was it they wished for the most…

” I want to live a peaceful life”

“I want to be able to go to school and not be kidnapped again”

“I want the war to stop”

“I want to find my parents again and live a happy peaceful life”

This boy in Kinshasa wanted to deliver his message in artform. He wanted to draw his message and asked me to pass it on, because maybe if everyone knew that the children in Congo do not want the war, then maybe, just maybe, the world can help to stop it.

Please share this message from a young boy in Congo, the country that has lost more than 5 million  people so far to a bloody conflict that spares no child, mother or old person.

Thank you.

message from Motombo Mabaka~ age 13~ Kinshasa