Success Story – WFAD and partners: Transforming the lives of 500 young ‘kulunas’ with the ‘Sober Youth’ project

The results speak for themselves: 500 violent youths – girls and boys – commonly known as ‘Kulunas’ – violent youths belonging to gangs – totally transformed thanks to the psychosocial support and empowerment program of the Sober Youth project. They have stopped using drugs and have all quitted violent gangs, thus contributing to the fight against urban violence in Kinshasa and consolidation of peace in local communities; nearly 100,000 inhabitants are now supplied with drinking water in the municipalities of Kinshasa, Selembao and Makala with the construction of 3 boreholes and water supply systems; effective participation in the fight against poor sanitation with regular waste collection from households, schools, hospitals, hotels, etc.

In 10 months of field activities with the project “Sober Youth-Healthier Communities: Transforming Violent Youth in Kinshasa,” funded by the Swedish Cooperation through the Swedish Embassy in the DRC, WFAD DRC and implementing partners Interactions RDC, Synergie des Femmes (SYFES) and Dynamique Actions pour le Développement et la Solidarité (DASOD) are about to celebrate the successful completion of psychosocial support and empowerment of 500 young people, former members of violent gangs in the city of Kinshasa but whose lives have been totally transformed as a result of this project aiming to tackle urban violence.

Psychosocial support sessions within the framework of this project have enabled the recovery of these vulnerable young people who have been psychotropic substance users but have now completely weaned themselves off after following these psychotherapeutic sessions provided by Inter-actions RDC for young men and Synergie des Femmes for young women. The empowerment phase that is beginning will contribute to their development through the sanitation program in the municipalities of Kinshasa and Ngaliema, as supervised by Interactions RDC, as well as the production and sale of drinking water program supervised by DASOD. Three boreholes have already been installed, providing drinking water to nearly 100,000 people in the communes of Kinshasa, Makala and Selembao in the city and province of Kinshasa.

In May 2021, a delegation from the Swedish Embassy in the DRC led by the Head of Cooperation Mr Joachim Beijmo and Mr Berthollet Kaboru, the First Secretary of the Embassy, noticed the achievements of this project and expressed their satisfaction to see this transformation in the lives of these marginalized youth who have rediscovered a taste for life thanks to this project. The Advisor to the Head of State in charge of the Youth, Mrs Chantal Mulop, also recognized the effectiveness and success of this project during her field visit on June 4, 2021, conducted with the WFAD-RDC management.

Other successes recorded in the field are the effective contribution to urban sanitation in the municipalities of Kinshasa and Ngaliema, security and tranquillity within the local communities impacted by the project as witnessed by the inhabitants of these neighbourhoods, the economic impact of the empowerment program and remunerations of the transformed youth, the voluntary and massive adhesion of other kulunas from other municipalities of the capital city. The latter have been coming to join this project in order to also benefit from this support for transformed lives.

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