‘’Volunteer and put your weapons on the floor!’’Written by Alexandra de Bournonville
On November 30, young volunteers, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and MONUSCO staff got together to celebrate IVD in Goma. The objective of this day was to showcase the potential of young volunteers’ actions to consolidate peace, and especially advocate for sustainable peace.
The environment, the business of everyone!
On Saturday morning, bystanders looked questioningly at the crew of 300 volunteers, equipped with spades, brooms and wheelbarrows, busy up and down with cleaning up the main street. As a kick-off of the activity, volunteers helps planting 50 inches of trees and collaborated to a wall painting on environmental protection in the yard of Epaigo school to encourage the younger generation to behave in an environmental-friendly way and to protect the environment.
''Years of conflict have had a negative impact on our ecosystem: soils were contaminated, infrastructures damaged, agricultural cycles destabilized, natural resources poorly exploited, etc, which in turn has led to famine, displacement of population and destabilization, says Sam, President of the Rastafiris Association. Now we are in post-conflict time, there are many things we can and we need to do to ensure peace recovery and considering environmental issues as part of the process. Therefore through this activity we are inviting citizens, particularly children and the youth, to respect and protect the environment.''
Singing for positive change
The day ended up with music and dancing at the Youth Cultural Center of Goma. Aimed at promoting youth commitment for peace and positive changes in the Kivus, a concert for peace featured local young artists and volunteers all raising awareness of their shared culture and identity, despite their diversity: Congolese rappers, break dancers and hip hop artists, reggae singers, traditional artists traditional dance, and others. Among the singing stars was Innocent Balume, popular young Congolese artist who joined his voice to call for a sustainable peace in the region. During all the afternoon, the concert mesmerized a big audience of 800 children and young Gomatracians, amid their cheerful applause and motivational clapping.
“We are tired of war! We want a peaceful society where we can grow up and live in peace and happiness, sing a 7-years-old volunteer holding in her hand a sign : ‘’Volunteer and put your weapons on the floor!’’.
If the music concert was organized under the auspice of the Youth Cultural Center, it is not by chance. Considering music and arts as one of the most effective ways to convey message of peace to the people, solidarity and friendship, the Youth Cultural Center holds regular and free art performance and activities for children and young people in Goma. ‘’We offer a friendly place for young people to spent their free time and share moments of happiness and joy.”
More than 200 volunteers from nine associations took part in all the IVD activities in Goma, namely the guides, scouts, the Association of Volunteers of Congo, Kivu UJAPD Arts, the Rastafiris, Collywood, IJEDI, Volunteers Association for Development. Their collective action allowed emphasizing that behind every voluntary initiative, there is a group of people involved with the willingness to build and help and that it is within the reach of all and everyone.