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KOLWEZI Democratic Republic of Congo, 30 April 2014- Marion was a shy child. She never spoke and always stood at the back of the group during the children’s consultation. But, like all the children, she wanted to be there. She wanted to tell YEJ about the situation of children in her community and listen to what her friends where saying.

One afternoon, Marion collapsed at the back of the group. On being tended to by staff of YEJ, Marion disclosed the reason for her collapse. She had eaten only five pieces of popcorn that day and couldn’t remember eating anything the day before.

Marion’s mother died giving birth to her baby brother. Their father died in a mining accident. Although she is only six, Marion looks after her brother most of the time, carrying him on her back wherever she goes. Their older sister, Margarethe, also looks after them, but she is usually busy finding work and food. An aunt occasionally gives them food, but she is too poor to spare much for Marion and her siblings.

Marion’s only possessions are the blue skirt and the torn shirt that she wears every day. She takes them off to sleep on them at night in a makeshift dwelling on the edge of Domaine Mariale.

Thanks to YEJ’s partner organisation the Good Shepherd Foundation (GSF), Marion now attends the informal education school established in the community. The community farm, supported by YEJ, brings produce to the school to make lunches for the students, so Marion gets at least one meal a day. Her aunt takes care of her baby brother when she is at school.

Marion’s sister Margarethe attends the vocational training centre in Kolwezi, run by GSF and supported by YEJ. Margarethe is learning sewing skills that will help her to support her sister and brother.

This story is part of a series of profiles highlighting the people of Domaine Marial in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Domaine Marial is a fringe settlement on the edge of the city of Kolwezi. The inhabitants are economic migrants to the area who hope to find work in the mines. Many of them were displaced during the internal conflict that has ravaged DRC for decades.

YEJ has been working in Domaine Marial since 2012 to help provide vocational education and opportunities for economic development of women and young people. Empowering women and young people to generate income and contribute to their community is helping to lift the entire community out of extreme poverty.

(c) YEJ 2013

Marion (right) with two friends at the children’s consultation with YEJ.

The names of the children in this story have been changed.