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Democratic Republic of Congo – Story of Daniel, lost and found

06 May 2020

(ANS - Bukavu) - Daniel lived with his family in Goma. When the M23 rebels occupied the city in November 2012, Daniel was 10 years old. His family fled north, along with many other people. But then, when they were near the Virunga park, his parents decided to go back. In this movement, Daniel lost contact with his family. He searched for them far and wide, but did not find them. He reached Bukavu by boat and, without knowing anyone, found himself with the street kids after a while.

Discouraged, he gradually adapted to street life: to survive, he transported waste and looked for abandoned pieces of iron to be sold to metal traders. One day, a friend told him they were welcoming street children to the Don Bosco Center. He accompanied him there and Daniel was accepted. That friend changed his life.

At the Don Bosco Center, Daniel was included in a cycle of literacy and school recovery, interspersed throughout the summer months by the colony that the Center organized. In November 2019, Daniel started the Vocational Training Course in Carpentry that continued until the beginning of March 2020.

At the Don Bosco Center, Daniel adapted well and showed his desire to leave the street behind. In Bienvenu Karume, the Center's social worker spoke about his parents and gave quite precise indications as to where his family lived in Goma. Following this information, the Bienvenu social worker found people who had known Daniel's parents: after various searches, they found the phone number of Daniel's dad, who in the meantime had emigrated with his family to Nairobi, Kenya.

Dad thought Daniel was dead, but as soon as he learned he was alive, he asked Daniel to come back, join them. The boy did, too. Bienvenu did all the paperwork and Daniel, after saying goodbye to his friends and to the Director of the Center, Fr Piero Gavioli, left for a long journey to Kenya, crossing Rwanda and Uganda.

In Nairobi, the boy was warmly welcomed by his parents and brothers and sisters, who had the joy of finding a son or brother who'd been lost for 7 years. The Director of "Don Bosco Boys' Town" agreed to include Daniel in the Carpentry course.

Daniel is part of a first group of 20 young people welcomed into the Salesian internship as part of a project developed by the Don Bosco Center in Bukavu with the support of the NGO "Louvain Coopération". This project, which started on 4 April 2019, has a three-year duration and involves the reception and family reunification of 20 children in street situations every year, for a total of 60 young beneficiaries in total.

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