Jean-Marc - Child Soldier
Jean-Marc was abducted by rebel forces from the streets of Kisangani at the age of 13 and recruited as a child soldier. “I was a child and the army made me move away from my family.” Jean-Marc’s gaze and long silence say more about his nine years as a child soldier than any words could. “Life became unbearable."
Jean-Marc was one of thousands of children abducted and made to serve as child soldiers during the Congo’s brutal and bloody war. In addition to the violence, abuse and psychological damage faced by those forced to fight as soldiers, children had to deal with being forcibly separated from their families and missing out on their education. For children like Jean-Marc, being accepted back into their communities is very challenging and just as hard to catch up on the schooling they’ve missed. A local member of the Jean-Marc’s community remarked: “The army stole our children, but it is giving us back completely warped adults to educate.”
Although Jean-Marc was demobilised in 2004, he has been unable to rebuild what he lost. He has never found his family and has no idea what happened to them during the conflict.
He came to Kinshasa looking for a better life, but at the age of 26 years, he has no means of supporting himself and he lives on the streets. When asked about his future, Jean-Marc simply wants to be able to finish his education and get a job so he can support himself. He said: “We sacrificed our lives. We want decision makers around the world to pay attention to people like us. We need support for schooling and training so we can live a dignified life. With some support, I could complete my studies. I want to be a mechanic one day."
War Child has rehabilitated and supports 5 centres for street children in DRC and has helped each of these centres receive training in child care and protection, food and medicine and access to education. War Child has also been instrumental in gaining agreement from the government to set up a high level commission to develop a plan for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).