The Kivu Assistance and Reintegration Centre undertakes a range of activities to promote skills development and community socialisaton for at risk youth to enable them to live peacefully and earn a livelihood. This includes language and literacy training as well as computer skills and other class-based teaching, as well as community liaison and job placement.
Our training activities include:
- Language training (English/French)
- Basic literacy
- Computer skills
The Centre’s other activities are:
- Family tracing, mediation and unification
- Basic socialisation, cultural activities and positive community participation
- Job placement and training
The youths who ask to join our programmes are typically young men (but also women) who are on the street and living in difficult situations. Our staff, who are based in the community, work very closely to verify “the story” of each individual and have dedicated out-reach officers for this purpose. Where possible, we then undertake family tracing and reunification, mediating to bring the youth back to the more stable environment of their own family or even their community if they are from outside Goma.
When participation in our classes —which continues for three months —is over we work to place the students in full-time employment or practical, trade-based training, working together with businesses in the community with whom we have developed relationships as partners.
Our other work includes promoting cultural and other activities involving the students in positive pursuits and socialisation. We sponsor football teams for our members and would like to buy uniforms; currently these are rented. Other activities are to invite community leaders, to address our students, providing positive role models and promoting discussion.
The Centre serves a liaison function with the community and with other actors on behalf of street youths generally, and those who are regarded at times as an unruly segment of the community: young men living on the street who have experience with war. We have, for example, worked with the youths and MONUSCO to help stop the stoning of UN vehicles in Goma.
The Centre and its activities are recognised by the provincial government of Nord-Kivu and we continue to have positive and constructive relations with our local authorities.
The Centre is now expanding these activities both in quantity of students and the range and quality of our activities; the demand for our services far exceeds what we are able to provide.
Our target group, or the main beneficiaries of these activities, are demobilised former soldiers, whether children or adults, together with street youths and the war wounded who are now handicapped and have often become beggars. Often participants are one and the same to all these categories. We also work with young single Mothers, living in distress, and with female demobilised soldiers.
The Centre began by offering assistance to at risk or street youths and, over time, we discovered that many of them were former soldiers who had served in the various armed groups currently or formerly active in this region. This group is now a prominent part of our activities—comprising half our current students. The other main beneficiaries are the communities of North Kivu who need to live in peace with the ex-combatants who have been part of the armed forces that have caused distress throughout this area.