|UNICEF and WFP visit AVSI in the Democratic Republic of Congo|
Mungunga 3 Camp, Democratic Republic of Congo – Representatives from UNICEF, the World Food Program and UNHCR visited Mugunga III, one of the refugee camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where AVSI helps ensure that children have access to education. After nearly one year of work, the number of students attending school has tripled and the positive impact of other activities carried out within the school have begun to spread throughout the entire community.
Currently, 2,635 children are enrolled in the various programs offered by schools in the Mugunga 3 camp, located roughly 10 miles from the city of Goma on the eastern border of the DRC with Rwanda. That is a dramatic increase of 270% from the previous year when the number of students that had access to formal classroom instruction was only 981. The results were achieved through aid programs financed by UNICEF and that have been carried out by AVSI in the DRC since May of 2013 when refugees began pouring in from the areas most affected by civil unrest.
Despite the presence of armed militia and rebel groups in the surrounding area, the Mugunga III camp houses close to 6,600 families. Children and adolescents in particular continue to be exposed to numerous risks like sexual abuse, economic exploitation, family separation, sporadic school attendance, malnutrition, and recruitment into armed militias.
Last year, to confront this emergency, AVSI put together a response plan with the goal of creating healthy and secure educational environments for all children living in the camps, a model UNICEF promotes globally as Child Friendly Spaces (CFS).
In order to witness the impact of AVSI’s work in the camp and surrounding community for herself, on the 23rd of January, the deputy executive director of UNICEF, Yoka Brandt, along side the deputy executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), Ramir Lopez Da Silva, and UNHCR delegate Janet Lim, visited Mugungu III. They were especially interested in observing the impact that the CFS program has had in the camps and in visiting the Uamsho primary school where AVSI works.
Brandt visited all of the programs following CFS model in Mugunga III in order to get a better grasp of how they complement other activities in the camp and to investigate the possibility of using the CFS program as part of a global response to many of the difficulties surrounding the education and protection of children throughout the world. Brandt also took time to meet with students at the Uamsho school where the CFS model is used by AVSI. In particular, she spoke with a young boy in 6th grade who, thanks to the activities promoted by the CFS model, was able to overcome the traumatic effects of displacement and to fully integrate back into the classroom.
AVSI’s program, financed by UNICEF and supported by the Ministry of Education, has managed to integrate the most important aspects of child protection with those of education. The result has been a significant decrease in the exposure of displaced children to the many risks they face as refugees while at the same time increasing their access to education
In place for nearly a year, the CFS program has had a positive impact on the entire community. By turning integrating schools with child-friendly spaces and encouraging the active involvement of the entire community in the CFS program, the camp environment has not only become safer but the local community now possesses an educational system that is sustainable and self-sufficient.
In addition, the program has allowed the primary school in the camp to acquire more than 200 desks, school kits, increases students access to educative and recreational activities, and to hire 26 teachers. Moreover, thanks to intervention encouraged by CFS model, the primary school was also able to secure the necessary income to cover the salaries of teachers and even the funds needed to maintain the school programs over time.