More

    First Person From Congo: From Taking Lives To Saving Lives

    ChildrenChild RightsFirst Person From Congo: From Taking Lives To Saving...
    - Advertisment -

    First Person From Congo: From Taking Lives To Saving Lives

    Fabien Mwingwa once fought as a child soldier with an armed group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Today, he has turned his life around, and works for the UN peacekeeping mission in the country as a firefighter, helping to keep local people safe.

    Fabien Mwingwa was 17 when a rebel group – RCD Goma – convinced him to join its ranks, and fight against the then government of President Laurent Kabila, with promises of a life of prosperity.

    He was recruited in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, and started military training in the bush. After fighting for seven years, Fabien surrendered and is now an employee of the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, (MONUSCO) as a Fire Safety Assistant.

    “When I joined RCD Goma, a gloomy future was in store for me. The government was trying to impose one tribe, to rule over the entire country, and the rebel leaders promised that once we had liberated the country, we would prosper.

    - Advertisement -

    After recruitment, we stayed in Goma for a month and then we were sent to Rwampara military camp, located in Bunia, Ituri province. The rebel leaders realized that our parents were looking for us, and it could have been easier for them to spot us in Goma.

    In 1999 the training was moved to Kisangani, before we were sent to the battlefield in Manono, Tanganyika province. The fighting was intense. We used heavy weaponry like Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs). We were very young, and some of those who survived later, had mental breakdowns.

    I suffered a lot. The conditions were filthy and stinking, and we were infested with lice.

    ‘Please return home’

    I was picked to escort our leader back to Goma, along with other fighters, and when my mother found out that I was back, she pleaded with me to stay home, as family members were saddened by what they heard I went through in the bush.

    But I stayed with the group, and it wasn’t until 2004 that I decided to leave. I realized that life with armed groups did not bring the prosperity they had promised: whatever money we got, we had to give to the leadership, who did not even provide us with shelter.

    The following year, I heard about the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme, run by the UN peacekeeping mission. I surrendered my weapons and uniforms, and followed all procedures, including visiting an office that verified whether or not I had indeed taken military training, or committed any crimes in the community.

    I got a job as a security guard, where I received training in engineering and fire safety. When my contract ended, I secured several further short-term contracts until I was employed by MONUSCO as a Fire Safety Assistant in 2015.

    I am grateful that MONUSCO has been with me since my surrender. I make a decent salary and I own a house. I am married, and am able to provide my children with a good education.

    My message to young people is that they should not go fighting in the bush, as there are no benefits. I suffered, I wasted time. And to combatants, I say, please come home and learn various skills. You could be hired like me, and life is good”.

     

    Image: UN

    - Advertisement -

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    Latest news

    Alliance for Global Good – Gender Equity and Equality: Logo and Website Launched

    The Alliance is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and anchored by the CII Centre for Women...

    SDGs in Asia – Mind the Widening Gap

    Asia Pacific now seriously lagging on all 17 SDGs. The region is reversing on climate action, stagnant on clean...

    Climate Change will Further Strain the Resilience of Small Farmers

    The unsustainable nature of farming operations and the escalating climate change have worsened the situation of the Indian farmer....

    Pakistan’s Election Outcomes Leave Many Unhappy

    Given these constraints, and the near impossibility of holding physical rallies, PTI used online opportunities. Khan kept up a...
    - Advertisement -

    Security Council Hears Gaza Famine ‘Almost Inevitable’ Unless Aid is Massively Scaled Up

    Some Council members proposed action plans to potentially end hostilities beginning with an immediate ceasefire and hostage releases while...

    Universal Connectivity Gets a $9 Billion Private Sector Boost

    ITU has called for $100 billion in overall investments by 2026 to provide the expertise and resources required to...

    Must read

    Alliance for Global Good – Gender Equity and Equality: Logo and Website Launched

    The Alliance is supported by the Bill & Melinda...

    SDGs in Asia – Mind the Widening Gap

    Asia Pacific now seriously lagging on all 17 SDGs....
    - Advertisement -

    More from the sectionRELATED
    Recommended to you