We use radio to amplify youth voices across Africa, giving them the skills and tools to speak about their lives
On Universal Children’s Day, November 20th, our street youth reporters in Kinshasa advocate for their rights. They observed this day together with church members and pastors from the ‘Assemblies of God’ Church, in the municipality of Kisensu in the DRC. This day observed by the United Nations, is celebrated each year to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for children.
After the main church sermon, our partner from REEJER, Denis Mabwa introduced the issue of child witchcraft, and three testimonial stories were shared by the youth reporters. Our partners were given a space to talk about how the Church can play a negative role in not only the rejection and abandonment of children accused of witchcraft but also to entrench this belief of child witches in the community. It was pointed out that some point in Kinshasa, out of 100% of so-called street children at least 40% were accused of witchcraft and forced to leave home. They also explained how some pastors have contributed to the rejection of children confirming that they were truly witches while they were not. The children also made it clear that the exorcism process used to ‘chase’ witchcraft out was only a form of torture. Often the children are forced to fast for extended periods, sit in the sun for hours, drink anointing oil, and also various forms of emotional torture.
The response of the Church to the event was positive, with a Pastor Kalubi defending the church’s position mentioning some isolated cases where untrained pastors have soiled the image of the Church. He said that naming a child to be a witch opens the door to stigmatization and other massive violations of the rights of the child. The same Pastor Kalubi also said: “I am amazed and very happy to see that the child reporters are kids from the street. I encourage this initiative and I’m pleased to see how the children themselves decided to do this work of changing the mentality of their community”.
Our youth reporters and partners of this project, funded by Feba Radio UK, feel positive that the overall message they brought that children are not witches, but their place is in the family, was well received.
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