FAQ Follow On:Twitter Google+ Facebook Tumblr subscribe by RSS or Email

Songs of Redemption From the Congo

|

For a child who has survived a life of warfare, what comes next? In the Democratic Republic of Congo, decades of strife have produced countless battle-scarred young men and women. Caught up in the conflicts, children as young as 5 or 6 years old have their lives horribly transformed. They are taken from their homes, kept as sex slaves, forced to carry weapons and ammunition into battle, or tasked with even worse duties such as pulling the trigger in a summary execution. These children learn perverse life lessons, raised by militias at war. So what happens to them when they escape that life? The Center for Investigative Reporting went to the cities of Goma and Bukavu to find out, listening to the stories of 12 young survivors who were working hard to enter the civilian world, become adults, and cope with the horrors they had witnessed and committed. The CIR was kind enough to share several of photographer Larry Price's portraits here. For the full package, please see the report Redemption Songs on Medium. [6 photos]

Use j/k keys or ←/→ to navigate  Choose:
Saddam Balingine, age 22. When Saddam was 6, he was recruited by a rebel group to conduct magic rituals to protect soldiers from harm in battle, a job reserved for virgins. By 7 he was carrying an AK-47, reaching the level of commander in his teens. He left the militia at 17, but is still hounded by government forces. In this photo, he shows how his hands were bound with sticks between his fingers during beatings, when he was held prisoner by government soldiers looking for information last summer. Today, Saddam is training as a mechanic, but still struggling to find work. (© Larry Price/Center for Investigative Reporting)
Saddam Balingine, age 22. When Saddam was 6, he was recruited by a rebel group to conduct magic rituals to protect soldiers from harm in battle, a job reserved for virgins. By 7 he was carrying an AK-47, reaching the level of commander in his teens. He left the militia at 17, but is still hounded by government forces. In this photo, he shows how his hands were bound with sticks between his fingers during beatings, when he was held prisoner by government soldiers looking for information last summer. Today, Saddam is training as a mechanic, but still struggling to find work. (© Larry Price/Center for Investigative Reporting)
Mugoli Shukuru, age 19. At age 14, Mugoli was taken by a militia who shot her father in the process, then held captive as a sex slave for two years, as the 'wife' of the commander. She never learned the name of the militia or whom the band was fighting. After managing to escape, she found a program run by a nonprofit called Let Africa Live, where child war victims could receive vocational training. Once Mugoli was accepted, she chose to study auto repair. (© Larry Price/Center for Investigative Reporting) #
Gode Musore, age 16. When Gode was in 3rd grade, members of a rebel group entered his home and took him. After some struggle, he became indoctrinated, armed, and fought in many battles for both the rebels - and after capture, for government forces. He has restarted his life now, as a hairdresser in Bukavu. Having killed dozens of people, he says he is plagued by his memories of militia combat. "It's like I'm watching a film of what happened to me," he said. "I see blood, blood, blood." (© Larry Price/Center for Investigative Reporting) #
Raphael Mutimanwa, age 25. A volunteer soldier with the Mudundu 40 militia at 12, Raphael was named a deputy commander in his militia at 15, and put in charge of half a dozen other young soldiers. They were often tasked with stealing chickens or goats from villages -- if they met resistance, they were quick to shoot. Now, working as a welder in Bukavu, he says "I am doing my best to forget." (© Larry Price/Center for Investigative Reporting) #
Nathalie Banyanga Kasaki volunteered to join a rebel group fighting the FDLR militia at age 12 because it seemed to offer a place of safety. But once she enlisted, she could not leave. Now 17, she is retraining as a seamstress. As a cook, she oversaw the theft of food for half of her group's camp. A second-grade dropout, she hopes to return to school to get the education she needs to help her start a business. (© Larry Price/Center for Investigative Reporting) #
James Black, age 20. James was taken by the FDLR, along with his family's goats, when he was 15. He started out carrying cases of ammunition to battle zones, later he was armed. At age 16, he was ordered by his commander to kill a captured enemy soldier, and had no choice but to comply. Shown here outside his tiny room near his training center, James awaits the beginning of classes. James is studying to be a mechanic at the Group for the Education and Training of the Victims of Nyiragongo (ETN), a vocational program for child war victims. (© Larry Price/Center for Investigative Reporting) #

Related links and information

Previous gallery | Next gallery | View All Back to top

Recent Entries

Join the Discussion

blog comments powered by Disqus

On Newsstands Now

Subscribe and SAVE 65%
10 issues JUST $2.45/COPY