Parents in Kisangani, the provincial capital of Tshopo province in Democratic Republic of Congo, say it’s too expensive to feed their children now that roads connecting the city to the rest of the area are in serious disrepair. The province has the potential to feed huge portions of the country, but it has become nearly impossible to get rice even to the provincial capital, let alone elsewhere in the nation.
In Goma’s Birere slum, hazards including candles and kerosene lamps abound, water is scarce, and there are few emergency services or decent roads. Overcrowding is another factor, but a group of young volunteers in the neighborhood has created a fire response service.
Women in Democratic Republic of Congo, who face a high risk of being raped because sexual violence is used as a weapon of war there, also suffer from complex health problems, often related to pregnancy and childbirth. HEAL Africa, which offers reconstructive surgery for women who have fistulas, also provides safe transport for women who live in remote areas that are sometimes surrounded by violent militias.
A weakened judicial system in the Democratic Republic of Congo allows offenders to go unpunished and prevents people from accessing justice. Conflict in the region has contributed to this problem, but Brussels-based Avocats Sans Frontières, known as ASF, is trying to combat this issue in DRC.
A former child soldier started an amateur boxing club in Democratic Republic of Congo to help other young soldiers move beyond their pasts. Now, boys and men from varying ethnic groups work together to find success in the boxing ring.
One DRC woman’s business makes the most of a substance many Goma residents consider to be a nuisance: Hardened lava, from past eruptions of Mount Nyiragongo. Lydie Sosole uses the lava to create jewelry that both inspires pride in Goma and boosts the local economy.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mining industry, regulations are ignored, conditions are unsafe, and many miners work for mining companies without formal contracts. In the town of Rubaya, at least one miner dies per month, but reporters in three provinces couldn’t find any families who had received compensation for such accidental deaths.
Hospitals in the city of Goma can handle the costs of natural childbirths. But mothers who have cesarean deliveries or whose newborns need intensive care that incur higher bills are not allowed to leave until they can pay. North Kivu Provincial Hospital relies solely on patients’ payments and would otherwise go bankrupt, a doctor says, adding that a support project in the works between his facility and the European Union should solve many of these problems.
Burial at a private cemetery is cost prohibitive for most residents of Kisangani, DRC’s third-largest city. But a new trend of illegal, overnight building is desecrating graves at the city’s public cemetery, where burial costs just $20.
Despite laws in the Democratic Republic of Congo against economic exploitation of children, poverty leads those as young as 5 to search for minerals in the sand near mines, and some 40 percent of the unregulated artisanal miners are said to be children. Desperate parents give their blessing to this, and the children also do other odd jobs, such as carrying materials and cleaning minerals, though local officials are trying to combat these practices.