David Mbona is 59 years old and, since 2006, he has sheltered almost 200 former child soldiers, of whom 87 were girls.
He is proud to say why he loves to receive children in the house where he shares with his wife and five biological children. His house is located in the suburbs of Keshero, in Goma.
One day, he was called by the Fight-Against-Misery Support Program (PAMI), which trained several families so that they could receive children who had been recently demobilized from armed groups.
They are called foster families and their mission is to assist in the process of reintegration into social and family life while their biological families are located.
“One day they called me to offer training and explained about the reintegration process. Then they asked me: ‘Are you ready to receive these children?’ I said: ‘Absolutely yes.’
When fostered, the children live in their home and share their routines with their biological children.
“Whenever I receive a new kid, I talk to my children and say we have to embrace them as brothers and sisters. They frequently do not even have clothes, and my children share everything they have with them.”
The host families represent the first contact with a family and a social life after leaving the bush.
“When I entered the program, I was asked if I could shelter them as a family while they waited for their relatives. Our task is to teach values of coexistence, to live a normal life, and to show that being a soldier is not a good thing,” he explains.
Today, David has three boys and two girls in his house.
It is common for children who have passed through his home, and who are adults now, to come and visit him. The gratitude for the host family remains.
David is a Capoeira enthusiast. “I know they teach Capoeira and I’ve seen the impact on their lives. It helps them to de-traumatize.”
For the father, education is the real key to transformation. “It is a great change, I can see it.”