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 21~ April 21st~ Congo

a safe place to rest

For ‘les enfants de la rue’, the children of the street in Kinshasa, a bit of ground in an enclosed secure place can make a world of difference where their safety is concerned. These children roam the streets by night in search of food, opportunity and means and ways. During the day, a center like this one (Cajed), is a place for them to be with people who care for a few hours. The can, eat, have lessons, play and most importantly rest. These 2 children were fast asleep during the whole of my visit and despite other children playing and running and jumping all around them.

I am quite behind in these Congo posts for April, because it gets more and more difficult each day to go relive this experience through the thousands of photos captured there. Each photograph forces me to relive the moments with all the emotions that accompanied it.

Day 15~ April 15th~ Congo

piercing

When the streets of the city are your home, when you are solely responsible for your own safety while other children are tucked safely at home, when your survival is depending entirely on the kindness of others…

These piercing eyes belong to one of the 300, 000 children that call the streets of the cities in Congo their home. “les enfants de la rue” ~ the children of the street, wild eyed, witty, emotionally fragile, hard shelled, untrusting… the sad product of a humanity gone wrong. But still the strength in them and the hope in their eyes could not be missed.

I met these children in a center in Kinshasa that offers them lessons, food, daytime shelter and guidance where needed. They sang to me, drew messages on the blackboard for me to photograph and sang me their national anthem in a most rhythmic excellence which I filmed and will share in a future post.

Let the world know about us..

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This was the resounding message in the faces and words of the children I met today in Kinshasa. They want the world to know what is happening to them. The girl above attends an embroidery class for “les enfants de la rue”, the children of the street. There is an incredible number of children living on the streets of Kinshasa, being abused in so many ways including the basic lack of a normal home and family life. Thanks to centers like the one I visited today, some of these children are offered a routine of normality that they so desperately need.

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a girl in front of the “hope” center in Kinshasa

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Children find a place to be children in centers like these, where they are protected from life on the streets.