In this story, we hear about Kadogo, a former child fighter in DR Congo who swapped his weapon for a theatre script.
When he was 12 years old, Kadogo’s grandparents left to work in the field as normal. That would be the last time he saw them. Later that day they were killed; their lives lost for speaking a different language.
Fast forward four years, and Kadogo became a member of an armed group in DR Congo. He joined to seek revenge for the death of the only family he had. Forced to sleep on the ground, he held on to a talisman for safety, and covered his body with grass to not be seen. So that he wouldn’t feel the awful cold, the group leaders gave him drugs to take.
Kadogo is one of many young people around the world who feel they have no choice but to fight. He spent two years in the bush before he could escape. For many child soldiers, leaving a violent gang isn’t the end of their worries.
Forced to sleep on the ground, he held on to a talisman for safety, and covered his body with grass to not be seen. So that he wouldn’t feel the awful cold, the group leaders gave him drugs to take.
Families can feel afraid of former fighters, or worry they will return to violence. Feeling shunned, this leads many child soldiers to return to fight once more.
Luckily, this wasn’t Kadogo’s fate.
Writer and activist Joseph Tsongo decided to take matters into his own hands. He set up a theatre group for young people like Kadogo. Ex-fighters can come to terms with what they have been through, and face their trauma through acting.
Joseph told us that when Kadogo joined the theatre group, he was agitated and violent; it was clear that he was still suffering from trauma and struggling to adjust to social and community life once more. Kadogo is still part of the theatre group, and every day he is making progress.
Kadogo wants to go back to school next year. He dreams of becoming a priest to serve God and his community.
We’re proud to give peacebuilders like Kadogo, and projects like Joseph’s, the spotlight they deserve. The theatre project was recognised and supported by Peace Direct, as one of the 2019 winners of the ‘Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders‘ Awards, celebrating some of the world’s most innovative local peacebuilders.
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