As a follow up to Congo Kids Initiative’s back to school September focus on education, we thought it would be helpful to share a bit of background about the work we support at St. Kizito Orphanage in order to understand the broader issues children face in the transition out of conflict.
War impacts not only combatants, but also everyday citizens who need access to food, shelter, and medicine. Conflict-related displacement destroys infrastructure and educational systems, making it difficult for societies to rebuild once peace finally arrives. As always, it is the most vulnerable members of society who are the most impacted by violence, very often this means children.
As a result of living through decades of war, many of the residents of St. Kizito have known a large amount of destabilization in their short lifetimes. Older children, both boys and girls, may have had direct combat experiences and younger ones have all been impacted by indirect consequences of war. It is estimated that over 5 million people have died in the DRC due to conflict, roughly half of those are believed to have been under five years old according to SOS Children’s Villages Organization.
The St. Kizito team works hard to focus specifically on the needs of those experiencing the effects of conflict. While residing in the orphanage, children are given large doses of love and a chance to regain a childhood filled with learning and play. For older children who have missed years of education, the school offers opportunities to discover the joys of learning for students of all ages. As conflict subsides, every effort is made to reintegrate residents to their home communities. Follow up monitoring is done to be sure that once children return home that they have the support they need to be successful.