In Minova, South Kivu (DRC), dozens of young people previously involved with drugs and banditry changed course at a carpentry apprenticeship centre. The centre is part of the ESPER programme, implemented by the Cordaid and VNGI consortium.
Mr. Bizimungu Ndamwenge Héritier, one of the apprentices in the learning centre, said the participants are “delighted” with the opportunity: “This work, that occupies us today, allows us to envisage our future differently.” The participants hope to sustain their new, positive approach to life through to the end of the training and beyond, in order to allow “an easy social reintegration” for themselves.
The ESPER program
ESPER, one of the programs contributing to stabilisation in eastern Congo, aims to promote and improve security and judicial governance, as well as social cohesion in the east of the country.
The four components of the ESPER project are performance-based funding, lobby and advocacy, security governance, and community engagement. The latter is based on the ongoing security sector reform process with a view to enabling the population to act (prevention, involvement, participation and expression of opinion) on security issues and challenges alongside the authorities.
These challenges, described in the local security plan and discussed with representatives of the population, revealed that many local security problems stem from drug addiction, idleness and prostitution among young people.
“This work, that occupies us today, allows us to envisage our future differently…”
It is for this reason that the network of Community Structures initiated in Minova in the Buzi territory (chiefdom of Buhavu in Kalehe, South Kivu) has benefited from a subsidy of five thousand US dollars. This allowed the establishment of an apprenticeship centre in carpentry trades. For the past three months, 22 young people from Minova and the surrounding area (including two young women), who were once involved in banditry, drug addiction and/or prostitution, have been participating in a six-month training course.
Exhibition of the first carpentry works
On October 11, an exhibition was held to display the first pieces of furniture produced by the participants. The Deputy Administrator of the Territory, as well as other members of the Local Security Council and local community leaders, attended.
During the exhibition ceremony, they expressed their support for the initiative, in particular, through the direct donation of money to: continue the supervision of young learners, purchase carpentry exhibited by the participants, and place orders for the manufacture of other furniture. In a further display of encouragement for the initiative, some local state departments, including the Ministry of Culture and Arts, have promised to exempt the learning centre from various taxes that may be imposed on it.
The appreciation of local leaders and authorities of Minova for the initiative (and their commitment to the development and sustainability of this work) highlights the security benefits that training a few young people to pursue secure livelihoods, can bring to the communities in this region.