“In the past I was very sad. Today I am truly happy”. This is how the 15-year-old boy called Platiny describes himself.
He is now a Capoeira lover.
His family of six brothers is from Walikale, 200 km west of Goma. His father died when Platiny was so young that he has no memories of him. His mother suffers from epilepsy and her health condition is fragile.
He lives with his uncle in a neighborhood of Goma called Nyabushongo and, in 2014, he had the first contact with a class of Capoeira given by Ninja, who nowadays admires him.
“Capoeira has given me many opportunities in life.”
Platiny was not a child soldier, but his past is similar to that of many children who live vulnerably.
Not being able to go to school, because his family could not afford the tuition, Platiny was always timid and lonely.
The contact with Capoeira changed his whole life.
He began attending regular classes at Heal Africa Hospital.
“They asked me if I was studying. As I said no, I was offered a scholarship. Today I study thanks to Capoeira.”
There is little left to complete the secondary school.
The love for this practice made Platiny attend all the Capoeira lessons given by the instructors. He is a constant presence in Heal Africa, CAJED transition center, and PAMI shelter.
Every day, he crosses the city and travels long distances to play Capoeira.
His house is three miles away through dirt roads from the CAJED Transition Center, which is something that has not discouraged him.
“I truly love Capoeira.”
With at least four years of frequent assiduity, Platiny dreams big. At each class, he helps the young, gives assistance to the teachers, and dreams of becoming a Capoeira Master, as well as Saudade.
“Capoeira brings us all together as in a family. I play with ex-soldier boys or people who have suffered some kind of violence or who are sick. The message of Capoeira is to bring everyone together even if we have different life stories.”
Platiny today follows the way to soon become an instructor.
“I wish I could continue to play Capoeira and teach others, the same way they taught me. I want to be a teacher like Ninja and Saudade. I want to help at Capoeira For Peace.”
For him, Capoeira can transform lives.
“I hope all of my friends can go back to school. With Capoeira, they changed their mind and left behind a life of struggle. “
The teenager will not have his original name disclosed. To ensure the integrity and safety of children under the age of 18 and to follow UNICEF guidelines, the children interviewed in this project were identified by fictitious names.