“My heart told me to shelter these children”
Françoise Furaha is 38 years old and lives with her children in a small farm in Quartier Keshero, in the suburbs of Goma.
Her wooden house is humble, has two bedrooms and a tiny living room. The kitchen is in the outdoor area. In the yard, she plants vegetables, grows chickens and animals for food.
Since she was widowed just over a year ago, the only form of income comes from a small grocery store that she takes care of across the street. There, she sells fresh food, eggs, juices, and palm oil.
Five years ago, Françoise enlisted to become a ‘host family’.
A kind of foster family to temporarily receive unaccompanied children who are former members of armed groups and who are in the process of social reintegration and in search of their biological family.
Since then, she has sheltered 28 girls and 16 boys. Today, she houses a boy of Rwandan origin who is already part of the family. He is one more of her sons.
“My inner instinct made me choose to become a host family,” Françoise says.
“We all learn from him and from his life story. He is totally integrated with our routine,” he says.
At sunrise, the family makes the first prayer of the day, has a meal together, and the boy gets ready to participate in the daily activities offered by the Fight-Against-Misery Support Program (PAMI), a non-profit organization that administers a space to receive boys who have been associated with armed groups in Goma.
“Today, he is happier. It is a good thing for all of us,” smiles.
Families who are ready to shelter these children represent the first step towards an effective social reintegration.
Being at a home and following the family rhythm is a way to break the cycle of violence in the communities.