19-year-old Patrick was born in the village of Kyangara, and he obtained his state diploma in Agricultural Techniques at the Institute of Bukunda.
“When I was 14, I lost my mother who used to pay my school fees. My father was not working at the time. I volunteered to be part of an armed group – believing that holding a gun would give me power and strength.”Patrick, ex-combatant
Into the bushes
Little did I know when joining an armed group that meals are sporadic and bullet wounds wrapped in dirty tree leaves are the only medical aid available. They once forced me to come back when I left for a few days to attend my fathers’ funeral. I tried to rebel against this, but ended up locked in a tiny cage for two weeks. It was horrible. I don’t even want to think about it.
One day, a few agents came to the bushes and convinced us that being a soldier is not our only solution. Following a negotiation with the chief, I left with three fellow soldiers.
In the beginning, the life in the Centre seemed difficult, a new life, a new home, surrounded by people I didn’t know, many of who were my former enemies. Slowly I started adapting and now my old enemies are among my best friends.
I did not expect to attend theatre classes and have gaming sessions at the Centre. I wondered what the purpose of those simple activities was, until I actually felt the transformative impact they had on me. I became happier and more confident. The Centre was our home, it was a great place to eat, sleep, seek treatment and more importantly to learn. We feel safe. Here, it is nothing like the bush.
The Life plan
RET enabled me to realize the Life Plan I drafted for myself. RET supported me with my education fees until I obtained my State Diploma. Currently, I am farming and I am looking for a teaching position.
The stories of CTO participants stand witness to their achievements and the key role RET continues to play in their lives.
DDR Program- DRCongo 2019
RET Germany e.V. would like to thank the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany for their endless support in saving the lives of adolescents and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.