The Daughters of Charity are working in Congo, especially in the area near the equator. In 1991, they opened a house in Kinshasa for the sick sisters and those traveling to their countries. This facilitated observing the birth of a phenomenon: the street children. Today statistics count more than 20,000 children in the capital Kinshasa. Although there are many centers dealing with the problem, they are not enough to cope with such numbers.
Given that, from the origins of the Company, the sisters have served abandoned children in different countries, they could not ignore this problem caused by poverty of families, divorce, abuse within the family and beliefs in witchcraft.
These street children are exposed to sexual abuse, especially adolescent girls, and many times are obliged to steal to get food, exposed to drugs and the most experienced undergo abuse compared to the new children.
The way to deal with this issue is to help these children get out of this situation gradually, in their own collaboration, offering the possibility of integrating in their family; helping in their studies; and supporting families with micro-projects, depending on the situation.
It is true that, for the most complex problems, other modes of intervention are articulated, with educational facilities in boarding schools, developing a process and facilitating the means necessary for their formation, starting with the basics: hygiene, food, literacy and vocational training.
The government gives permission, but does not participate with economic help. For this reason, the Daughters of Charity seek external funding, because if no help is given to these children before age 18, they would probably end up in prisons, prostitution, drugs, and some of them will become murderers. Every effort to recover these children is a collaborative effort of all those who are sensitive to this situation.
Private intervention and development is key to the strategy change of public policy in the country; that is why the Daughters are giving support to these works, and are working both with the communities and with local authorities in order to raise awareness of this phenomenon that, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is reaching very high levels.
To learn more: Proyecto Niños de la Calle de las Hijas de la Caridad en El Congo. (“Street Children Project of the Daughters of Charity in Congo,” in Spanish)
For more information on development projects in COVIDE AMVE (in Spanish)