Torched huts, looted schools, attacks on women and children — the threat of violence is part of daily life for many children growing up in Tanganyika Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. "In our village, the Bantus and Pygmies were at loggerheads," recalls 13-year-old Abdallah.
For several years, interethnic conflict between Pygmy and Bantu militia groups has affected villages in southeastern DRC. To address this deep-seated tension and break the cycle of violence, UNICEF set up Peace Clubs in schools, with support from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). "I joined to preach peace throughout our community," says Abdallah.
Watch the video to see how children are leading the way on the path to peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Peace Club members organize skits that stress the power of peaceful cohabitation, respect for gender identity and every child's right to an education. All students and community members are invited; the role-playing is followed by spirited discussions.
"I decided to join because some of my friends were victims of violence in my village," one student leader says. "Today, thanks to our work, we live together and eat together."
Top photo: "The work we do is to sensitize the community on peaceful cohabitation, because our village had known war," says a young member of the Peace Club at Kibi Primary School in the village of Lumfukwe,Tanganyika Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. © UNICEF/UN0473582/Mulala. Video by Tong Su for UNICEF USA.