Masika is a 15 year old girl, who was forcibly recruited into an armed group at just 12 years old. For three years she was used as a sex slave.
“I was made to sleep with different boys and have sexual relations with five or even eight boys the same night,” she says. “Because of this, today I have a big problem with my sexual health. I was made to cook food for about 100 men, and to carry food to soldiers on the frontline of military attacks. Other times I was used as a spy: our commander would send me as a sex gift to the enemy commander so I could spy on their plans.”
Today, thanks to help from local hero Henri Ladyi, Masika is running a small roadside restaurant in Beni Town. Like the children featured in Channel 4’s Unreported World documentary, Henri helped to liberate Masika, but this is just the beginning of his work.
Once out of the militia group, the children still face many challenges – often they do not know where their family are, and the grinding poverty caused by over a decade of civil war means that what children need more than anything else is a way to support themselves.
Henri budgets just £21 for each child, enough to provide clean clothes, travel costs, and some basic training in a skill so the children can support themselves. Henri has liberated hundreds of children. Now 11-year-old Freddie is working as a baker and plans to go back to school later this year. 13-year-old Kalungu is working as a hairdresser, alongside 14-year-old Mbila who came out of the bush with him – together they hope to have their own salon one day.
And Masika is helping Henri to make children and parents understand the reality of life in an armed group – so they do not drift to the bush for the promise of a fresh meal. Make a donation today and you could help more children like Masika to escape a life of violence.
[standout]“It was not easy to me to talk about my experience, because I went through many bad things. But I need to help children to understand the danger of integration into the fighters.”[/standout]
Picture changed to protect identity.