In the DRC approximately half of the total population is under the age of 15. This population is the country’s future. However, in many parts of Kinshasa, the capital city of the DRC, the situation of children remains volatile and their future is uncertain.
In Kinshasa alone, over 200 000 children live on the streets. Their parents died or cannot afford to take care of them. Sometimes the chidlren are even accused of sorcery or black magic and were banished from their homes.
The streets are a highly dangerous place for the children. Living amongst the city’s rubbish and having to resort to begging, stealing or prostitution to survive, they are often regarded with a mixture of contempt and suspicion by other people and are very reluctantly tolerated. Often the police intervenes and – by claiming to ‘combate street crime’ – beats and mistreats the children. bIn answer to this hostility the children organise in gangs. Older individuals who have managed to survive and come of age gather younger street children around themselves and impose their own rules and laws upon them. Especially soldiers‘ children – such as those from the military camp where most of oyo’s participants come from – are endangered to end up on the street. Life in the military camp is rough and often the war-traumatised families are unable to take care of their children.
For youth growing up in such an environment it is difficult to imagine a world or even a future without violence. As a result, children behave and think in short-term myopic ways. Furthermore, opportunities for education, culture and the arts are extremely limited. The goal of this project is to give conflict affected youth a safe activity, which encourages them to think about their future and envision a world without violence, while engaging them in artistic and cultural activities.