November 20, 2023 ・

D.R. Congo, the testimony of a girl: "In the mines I suffered beatings and diseases"

Consolate Kazamba Mujinga is 13. Before attending the Emergency and Rehabilitation School opened by Still I Rise in Pamoja, she worked in the mines located in the Kolwezi area in the south of the country. Today Consolate Kazamba Mujinga retraces that experience, recounting the daily dangers, including beatings by masters and illness.

Below is her testimony, as part of the initiative "Through Our Voices", a project created by advocacy Still I Rise to unveil what is happening in the countries where we operate through the voices of our students and their families. The second chapter of "Through Our Voices" focuses on children's working conditions in the mines (read also: D.R. Congo, voices from the Mutoshi mine: "We risk our lives for 10 dollars per day" and D.R. Congo, the story of a former miner: "Still I Rise saved me and my daughters").

"I live in a family of 6, consisting of five children (one boy and four girls) and our mother. We come from Kasaji territory in Lualaba province, but today we live in Kolwezi. 

Since we arrived in Kolwezi, everything has changed; this was the beginning of our family's ordeal.

Where we live there are no trees, the houses are built in disarray. In my neighborhood I am often insulted by local gangs. Before we were helped by Still I Rise, sometimes we had no food for many days. We struggle paying rent, and when the end of the month comes, my mom has to go to the quarry to get money to pay for it. 

My mom had studied in elementary school, but she did not finish her studies, while I started to attend Still I Rise’s school in February 2022. 

I worked in the mines with my mother and my friends, harvesting and washing ore. During this time I made some money to buy clothes and shoes, and I even managed to braid my hair!

While working in the mines, I got sick every time after washing the ores in the dirty water. Malaria afflicted me constantly and my family did not have the means to treat me, I often felt in danger. 

With my friends, when we entered other people's mines, if the owner came, he would beat us up and chase us away regardless of our age”.

I remember one day we were in a mine with my five friends. The owner found us, he whipped us and chased us away by throwing stones at us. As I was running away I fell and injured my leg, I injured my ankle badly and from that day it’s been deformed. 

There were many of us in the quarries and there are still other children who are there working hard.

The quarry is a very bad place, not suitable for children, and there are many diseases. Going into other people's quarries there is a risk of landslides and you can die on the spot. There are some owners who, when they find a child in their mine, kill them and leave them there, covering them with dirt.

When I see the other children, I tell them that I no longer go to the mine and that I have now become a student. I will look for a way to sensitize their parents to send them to school.

Still I Rise’s school has already helped me a lot. When I worked in the quarry I couldn't read or write but since I came to Pamoja school I have completely changed. I can already read, write and speak French, and when I am sick the school takes care of me. When I finish my studies, I will become a doctor to treat people, and I will have a lot of money to build my school that will get children out of the mines.

There is a big difference between Still I Rise’s school and the others, here the teachers are very experienced and we can study computer science because we also have computers to practice and then they teach us how to write well.

Where I studied previously, I had only finished the first year, I was limited to the second primary due to lack of resources. We had to pay to get access to the lessons, even just to get a book. My health has also completely changed. I eat here at Pamoja school, which is not the case in other schools. They also feed my family, the list of what they do for me is long, I could not say it all, but all of it makes a very big difference between this school and the others.

In the streets back home, today I feel the joy of seeing that I too have become a student like the others, and the children we were in the quarry with are surprised to see me in a uniform."

And you, what can you do to help?

Join the "No more child miners” campaign and sign the petition!

Join Still I Rise’s BIG FAMILY and donate now!

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