DR CONGO: Reuters Photographer Captures Life at Center Where Salesians Care for More than 3,000 Abandoned Children, HIV/AIDS Victims
(MissionNewswire) Reuters photographer Thomas Mukoya captured a day in the life of abandoned children and at-risk youth at a Salesian-run center in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mukoya initially traveled to the area to cover stories related to the proposed disarmament process by the United Nations (which has yet to happen). Instread, he decided to focus his attention, and his lens, on children affected by the instability in the region. His research brought him to the Salesian-run Don Bosco Ngangi community center in Goma.
Children are extremely vulnerable when it comes to civil war and violence. Many were abandoned during the recent fighting between the Congolese army (known as the FARDC) and the M23 rebels. For many of these abandoned children, Don Bosco Ngangi has become a safe haven.
Established in 1988, Don Bosco Ngangi hosts more than 3,000 abandoned children and HIV/AIDS victims. According to Father Piero Gavioli, the center’s director, young victims with nowhere else to turn continue to arrive at the center.
“Father Gavioli told me that when the rebels took over Goma in December 2012, the center was not affected,” said Mukoya. “Not a single bullet was fired towards the facility that played host to running refugees from the different villages of North Kivu. The work happening at the center is very important.”
Father Gavioli—who Mukoya described as having a “very kind personality”—gave the Reuters photographer a tour of the facility, including the kitchen where dinner was being prepared, the outside space where groups of older kids were playing and laughing and a nursery where young orphans were being cared for by the Salesians.
“Immediately entering the children’s room I was touched by this 18 month old child named Imani,” said Mukoya.
The toddler, whose name translates to “Faith” in English, was “playing in his baby-cot and always smiled to the camera,” he added.
“The children are gorgeous and it was moving to see how much they liked visitors and were interested in my cameras,” Mukoya said. “I was inspired by the way young children lived and played together as a family.”
The photos were initially posted on Trust.org, a site of the Thompson Reuters Foundation.
THOMAS MUKOYA’S PHOTOS ARE BELOW:
(ABOVE) An abandoned child drinks milk at the Don Bosco Ngangi community center in Goma, North Kivu region. (August 6, 2013) REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
(ABOVE) Abandoned children play at the Don Bosco Ngangi community center in Goma, North Kivu region. (August 6, 2013) REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
(ABOVE) Michelle Sodiki, an abandoned child, rests in his cot at the Don Bosco Ngangi community center in Goma, North Kivu region. (August 6, 2013) REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
(ABOVE) A youth jumps through the air as he plays at the Don Bosco Ngangi community center in Goma, North Kivu region. (August 6, 2013) REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
(ABOVE) A worker prepares food “ugali” at the Don Bosco Ngangi community center in Goma, North Kivu region. (August 6, 2013) REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya