We are delighted that the Village of Hope extension is now renovated, equipped and in use. The flooring has been completely replaced, the walls repaired, and the homes painted. Two homes have been extensively renovated and each has four rooms with 2 beds in each. This now means that the provision of the new homes allows up to 16 rescued child soldiers to stay in this new addition to the Village of Hope. Good quality mattresses have been supplied for those beds. We are grateful to Pearl International for providing funds for the beds and mattresses and to the Rhododendron Trust for support in rehabilitating the homes.
This now provides a much better option of accommodation for Children of Liberty, providing an environment where those ex-child soldiers can feel at home and secure and with a sense of their own space and room to heal and recuperate. The homes are used for boys as the girls already have the Pam Jackson Home, although at some point this will need extended. When we visited the new homes, the boys spoke of how they were comfortable, sleeping well and at peace, and had made new friends with room-mates.
For boys like Robert*, life has changed beyond any expectations. Robert was returning home from Saturday choir practice at his church when his village was attacked by a rebel group and after two hours of gunfire, death, looting and rape in the village he was captured and taken as a child soldier. Eventually he escaped but was no longer welcome in his village as he was known as a rebel soldier. He was brought to Goma and the Village of Hope and says, “I now have recovered the meaning of happiness and joy. I don’t feel I am without value anymore as a person. I am not afraid when I meet people as was the case when I left the bushes because God has offered me a second chance to live with the dignity. We pray and worship God instead of looting, robbing and thinking or planning about people’s death. And I know that when I finish my studies and be married, I would be a good father and be an example for my family.”
There is also another house which has been maintained as one large living space and is used for emergency accommodation when there are a large number of child soldiers needing temporary accommodation prior to moving onto demobilisation facilities. There are also 13 toilets (left) available. Comfort Congo recently had 105 child soldiers in that position, so this living space was crucial at that time.
*name changed to protect identity