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Reaching Out to Refugee Youth in DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has received thousands of refugees from Burundi over the past two years. War Child works to support the needs of young people in DRC wherever we can - including within refugee camps. Find out how our ‘Youth Space’ in one camp is improving the skills and resilience of young people

War Child works across DRC to address the needs of children from both refugee populations and host communities. Our projects in the Lusenda refugee camp focus on youth who have escaped the violence in neighbouring Burundi.

The needs of young refugees are often neglected. War Child has worked to address this by setting up a ‘Youth Space’ inside the camp. Activities are provided to enable children and young people to improve their psychosocial well-being. The schedule includes creative and recreational activities, events to foster dialogue and our life-skills course the ‘DEALS’.

Sessions are run by young adults who work as ‘framers’ and serve as role models to their peers. One of these framers is Rose (28). She tells us about life in the Youth Space.

Life inside the Youth Space

Rose believes the Youth Space serves a valuable purpose. “Before, the young people spent their time wandering around and doing nothing,” she explains. “Thanks to this space, they now have an opportunity to exchange ideas, create new things and improve their mentality - in short, to learn to know one another and to live better in society.”

Some 140 young people attend events in the Youth Space. The number includes between 30 and 40 girls. Rose explains why so few females take part: "According to Burundian culture, adolescent girls are obliged to stay at home to take care of the household chores. Therefore, girls come only for specific activities such as theatre and traditional dance."

Rose’s long-term wish for the young people in her sessions to see them develop skills to meet the challenges of life. “I want this centre to remain operational, with more materials and follow-up visits,” she says.

“For any young person who frequents the centre, in three to five years I see them able to live in any place and with any type of person. They will deal with their situations. They will be responsible and able to create opportunities that will allow them to become someone important.”