Art in Place of War

Art therapy is being used to help rehabilitate the lives of today’s war children in Central Africa.

War. Violence. Corruption – these might be some of the terms that come to mind when you think of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Indeed, war has claimed the lives of around 5.5 million people over the past decade and today’s generation are bearing the affects. However, CAMME – Centre d’Appui en faveur des Mineurs Marginalisés et Exploités (Centre for Marginalised and Exploited Youth) are working to change that. The non – profit organisation is provides support for the thousands of young people in the areas where violence by various rebel groups and corruption still remain in this Central African country.

For the organisation, established in 2007 in the midst of violence by DRC national Christine Lunanga, based in North Kivu region in the East of the country, art has played a key part in helping people affected by trauma to express themselves in a way that promotes healing. In the case of CAMME, vocational classes in sewing, photography, art as well as educational classes on justice and peace, nutrition, farming and hygiene are being taught to the younger generations in an effort to help maximise their potential – educationally, professionally, and personally. Lunagna says:

  “I understand what suffering means for a child; I lived through it myself. Experiencing this made me want to fight to improve the lives of those who haven’t had the same opportunities as I have.”

Since its establishment, over 1,500 children have graduated from CAMME’s Youth Inspirations Academy and many have gone onto receive scholarships to their local schools and universities. For DRC’s young adults and for future generations, it is a step in the right direction for a country that has been the subject of global media for decades.

ELIZABETH PENNINGTON

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