by Nsenga K. Burton
UNICEF is reporting that children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are using art to cope with the atrocities that they have witnessed or suffered. UNICEF partner AVSI in Mugunga III, a site in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is located where several thousand internally displaced persons have found shelter. UNICEF reports:
Since April 2012, fighting between the 23 of March Movement rebel group (M23) and the Congolese Army (FARDC) has forced families to flee their homes and seek refuge in makeshift shelters in and around North Kivu’s provincial capital city of Goma. Many children have experienced frightening scenes. Not every child can speak about the violence she or he has seen.
The children have witnessed horrible events including murders, stabbings and other forms of extreme violence to such an extent, many of them cannot speak about the atrocities. Instead, they communicate their feelings through drawing.
UNICEF and AVSI have set up seven mobile child-friendly spaces to reach a maximum number of displaced children in displaced sites around Goma. An average of 2,500 boys and 3,000 girls per day are reached through the mobile and fixed child-friendly spaces.
During the drawing exercise, children are invited to draw their recent experiences to help them release the pressure and relieve the pain. Through the pictures, many girls describe the rape of close friends and neighbours who were doing their daily chores when they were attacked.
In the ongoing conflict, many forget to discuss the ongoing impact of these horrific events on children. Working through art is one of the ways to to help remedy these issues.
Read more at UNICEF.