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DRC: UN Volunteers Fly to the Rescue of Vulnerable Children

UN Volunteers (UNV) program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo now has more than 500 volunteers, including 300 working for MONUSCO and others for Funds and Programs of the Agencies of the UN system.

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the programs for the West and Central Africa Region that has a significant number of volunteers in the field.

It now has more than 500 volunteers, including 300 within MONUSCO and others serving in Funds and Programs of Agencies of the United Nations System.

Volunteers in the DRC continue to contribute to peace, justice, and the formation of strong institutions, in supporting to MONUSCO and other Agencies, Funds and Programs to help them achieve the 16th goal contained in the 2030 agenda which is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies. It aims to reduce all forms of violence, put an end to torture and fight effectively all forms of organized crime, corruption, and the practice of bribery in all their forms.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, volunteers working in different sectors organized various activities to commemorate the International Day of Volunteers celebrated on December 5 each year.

In this respect, at the beginning of the month, they backed APROJED training center’s activities as part of the program "Actions and Projects for Sustainable Development"; the training center is located in Turunga, Nyiragongo locality in the North Kivu. This center trains former child soldiers and other vulnerable children to acquire skills, to sustain them in life, such as carpentry. In fifteen years, more than 600 children have followed vocational training and have become independent.

UN Volunteers in DR Congo donated carpentry equipment to this center, including a generator and drill hammers, which will help improve their work.

A timely gift

APROJED training center has been operational since 2006; however, until now it used traditional carpentry equipment. With support from the UNV program in DR Congo, the center believes it will have more training that will impact positively on the life of the children and their professionalization.

The learners and managers of the center said the donation will bring added value to their work. So, they thanked the volunteers for this outpouring of solidarity towards them. 

Angel, 17, says: "I am undergoing training in carpentry at APROJED center. It was not easy for me to get here, far away from the armed groups. As I found this opportunity, I hope to be able to use it to contribute to the development of my community and never go back to my past life. I thank the UNV program for this donation as it will greatly contribute to our learning."

Destin, 16, welcomes the support from the volunteer program. He too pledges to get involved and prepare himself for a bright future: “Thank you for the support; these tools will help us learn better here and acquire skills to help us earn a living so that we never return to armed groups.”

Guillain Punzu, the director of the APROJED center, said he is happy, indicating that the material received will help them to improve the quality of teaching. “I would like to thank all the volunteers around the world who thought of us and these young people from armed groups. United Nations volunteers have brought smiles back to these children who were previously traumatized by armed groups. Thank you for all the machines and carpentry tools for before we used traditional and locally made tools, but with this donation we believe the quality of the training will be improved and will make us want to work,” said Guillain Punzu, director of APROJED.

Mr. Punzu also believes "the material received will transform the lives of these former child soldiers by helping them to integrate socially and economically and by replacing the weapons they used at the time".

On December 2, 2022, in addition to the meeting between the UNVs in DR Congo and the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Khasim Diagne, other activities were organized in Bunia, Ituri. Here, the UNVs visited Saint Kizito orphanage and donated medicines to the orphans.

Volunteers’ contribution to the DRC

Khasim Diagne shared his story with the volunteers in DR Congo and congratulated them for their daily work in a meeting on December 2. "Volunteers in DR Congo form a work force that makes an invaluable contribution to the Mission’s mandate, but also to the activities of the UN Funds and Programs", said Khasim Diagne, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Protection and Operations.

“Celebrating International Volunteer Day reminds us of the positive impact everyone can have in the pursuit of peace and development. We are paying tribute to the many volunteers of the United Nations system in the DRC and elsewhere in the world,” said Bintou Keita, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO, during the celebration.

The theme for 2022 is "Solidarity" because it is the only way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 for it is very important for us to work in solidarity, "Together, Let's Act Now".