are around one quarter of a million street children in the
country. These numbers are hardly surprising when you
consider that there are some five million orphans in the
country, let alone those who have taken to the streets for
The situation is being
so embedded that there are now second and third generation
street children in the Democratic Republic of Congo especially in Kinshasa, Bukavu,
Goma and Lubumbashi. These former street children are now
hardened street adults ~ uneducated, outside of mainstream
society and seeing no relevance in the rules of a society
which abandoned them as children.
Disturbingly some of the street children are often recruited
by political parties to create disorder in public
demonstrations in exchange for food and or money. With
no one to advocate for them, security forces respond
aggressively and there have been many reports of children
being killed or seriously injured during these episodes.
statistics for girls are alarming. Often referred to as
mayibobo, or tsheil, many girls start a life of
prostitution at the age of twelve and where statistics are
available, seven out of ten report they have been raped with
one out of every three of these children already being a
mother as a result of these incidents.
It is widely
acknowledged that there is neither the social understanding
nor political will to address the issue which is becoming
increasingly prevalent across sub-Saharan Africa. The common
response of 'just go home' assumes there is a home to return
to, and if there is, is it safe.
The video (above, right) shares some of their lives, their
stories and the work being undertaken with some of those
that can be reached to offer a better future. This work,
mainly by NGOs and other charitable organisations, includes
attempts to identify the child's birth family and reconnect
with them, offering remedial education for those prepared to
re-enter the educational environment or the teaching of
practical and trade skills for the older street children.
Some educational work is also undertaken with families
making them more aware of the outcomes for their children if
they are abandoned on the streets.