2019 - A Year in the Life of Some Children
2019 will soon become history. During the year, some children’s experiences may make us pause for a moment and think about the future of our world.
A Burden Too Early to Bear
Neema, 17, now lives with her son and her two little brothers in her aunt’s house in Beni, DRC, after both her mother and father died from Ebola. “My mom was taken to the hospital on a Saturday and on Tuesday she was dead. My dad died two weeks after she passed away,” she says.
Since moving to her aunt’s home, Neema has been working very hard in the fields and taking care of her brothers and child. However, she is still only a child and the burden is simply too heavy for her. She is also determined to protect her family from repeating her parents’ misery. “The hygiene kits [distributed by World Vision] are helping us. There are less [Ebola] cases; it is thanks to them that we are still alive,” she says. “I tell my little brothers to wash their hands all the time. I explain to them what happened to our parents and why it’s important to listen to the doctors and follow what they say.”
Since Ebola broke out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in August 2018, over 3,200 have been infected and more than 2,100 were killed. Children make up nearly 30% of the infected cases, while many others have become orphans. Apart from DRC, Ebola also poses real threats for Uganda and South Sudan. To prevent the spread of the disease, World Vision has been training health workers, distributing hygiene kits and supporting community awareness programmes, reaching over 400,000 in DRC alone.
A Simple Wish
In Jordan’s Irbid Governorate, which borders Syria, World Vision’s child friendly spaces are helping refugee children integrate into society and mothers to support one another. When Aisha*, still in her twenties, left Syria, the city was constantly being bombarded and there was a lack of food and water. Being pregnant, it took her and her husband two days to reach Jordan, where her son Mahmoud* was born. Unfortunately, her husband soon fell ill upon arriving at Jordan and was unable to work. Life became even more difficult and Mahmoud, now seven, has never been able to go to school.
Mahmoud is happy that he can attend a child- friendly space twice a week to learn. For Aisha, her biggest wish is for the child friendly space to continue to operate, so that her son can have the opportunity to study and enjoy his childhood.
* Names changed
The conflict in Syria has been going on for eight years now. So much has been lost and the road to recovery is long. The conflict has caused more than 5.9 million children to become displaced. Since the outbreak of the conflict, World Vision has been assisting refugee families in places such as Jordan and Lebanon. As the days pass by, children’s education needs are becoming more and more desperate. Therefore, in addition to running child friendly spaces, we are also providing early childhood education and support for children who have dropped out of school, teaching them knowledge and skills. In the refugee camps, we are also providing sports, leisure and learning opportunities for children.
Hope through the Threads
“I was abducted by a militia and became a child soldier for 3 years. One day I escaped. Luckily they didn´t catch me,” Lea recalls her terrifying experience.
When Lea escaped, she began attending a rebound centre for former child soldiers in Butembo, DRC. “At the center I’m doing sewing classes. I really like it. I have many friends here now,” she says cheerfully. She hopes to put what she has learnt into practice and start a small tailor shop to provide for her child. Her biggest wish is for her child to go to school and not remain illiterate like herself.
The harmful practice of child recruitment occurs every day in at least 20 countries around the world. In 79 countries, including DRC, Afghanistan and Somalia, no laws have been enacted against the recruitment of child soldiers. In this year’s No Choice report, World Vision provides first-hand accounts of child soldiers in Central African Republic, Colombia, Iraq and South Sudan. By making their stories known, we hope to raise public awareness on the plight of child soldiers and advocate for ending the recruitment of children as soldiers globally.