Zacky Kabunga, president of United Methodist Men in Goma, Congo, counsels a group of children who live on the streets in South Kivu. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.
By Philippe Kituka Lolonga
Sept. 30, 2019 | BUKAVU, Congo (UM News)
There are nearly 3,000 children and youth living on the streets in South Kivu. The United Methodist Church in Congo is working to build relationships — through evangelism, counseling and other support — to help some of them find a better path.
“Men of God are called to help these categories of people because it is part of the mission of the church,” said the Rev. Clement Kingombe, pastor of Ibanda United Methodist Church in Bukavu, who has been working with the youth for two years.
Oftentimes, the young people gather around places that sell alcohol and they cause trouble in the streets, he said.
Mbilizi Bonane, president of United Methodist Women in Bukavu, said it has become a real problem. “There are street kids criss-crossing and bothering us from day to day. They smoke along the way and take strong alcoholic beverages,” she said.
Luc Lukwangomo, head of the Office of Child Protection in the Provincial Division of Social and Humanitarian Affairs in South Kivu, said there are many root causes for the increase in “street children.”
Family poverty, divorce, drugs, a lack of education and armed conflicts in villages are some of the factors that lead young people to live alone on the streets, he said.
Most of these children are runaways ranging in age from 12 to 16 years old, Lukwangomo said, noting that South Kivu alone has 2,976 children who are in difficult situations and find themselves at different sites in the city and its surroundings.
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