“I am back from the bush today after a difficult mission. It was not easy to reach this group of Mai-Mai who live 197km from Beni, with bad conditions on the road.
The General and Officers of the Mai-Mai were waiting to meet us and agreed to let us return 40 children back to their families. Before reintegrating the children back into their communities, we have to carry out a process of reconciliation between them and their families. Many children were rejected by their families, having been forced by the Mai-Mai to previously carry out an atrocity in their home community. Some children have run away because of problems at home.
We bought changes of clothes so the children could take off their military uniforms and their guns were recouped by the Mai-Mai officers. A big challenge for us is that there are between 200 and 300 children who need to be reintegrated in their families, all of them are under our responsibility. Some of the children want to return to school and others need to be reintegrated into professional activity or work, to help them to work in groups with other children and learn more from them.
We will support their reintegration for the next two months and then we will leave them and look for other child soldiers still in the bush. This work is urgent not because their conditions are very bad but because this is a good moment for this action. The level of political crisis is low at the moment, and the situation has calmed down a lot after the recent violence.
A special thing was to see families accept their sons even if there were some problems before, and to see also children beg pardon of their families. We were obliged to repay things that were stolen by these child soldiers just to allow the reconciliation with their neighbours.
Many thanks and God bless all the team.
Henri Bora Ladyi
Céntre Resolution Conflits”