The life of a child in a refugee camp is hard. There are shortages everywhere, But the worst is growing up without a future. A Congolese child refugee learned that if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.
Seven-year-old Baruani Ndume was almost another silent statistic of the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The rebel soldiers spared him because of his age, but his mother was not so lucky – rounded up with the rest of the group trying to flee to neighboring Tanzania, locked inside a house and burnt to death.
Now 26-years-old Baruani is one of 33 million refugee children trying to live his life in limbo – stateless and without parents. The Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania, where he spent the next 18 years, and where noone was allowed to leave, taught him that hope only came if you created it yourself. He started a radio station with the help of the U.N. Refugee Agency to help reunite children like himself with their families.
“You are given the gift of life for free. Use it to live freely with others and to create big things. ” – Baruani Ndume
Thousands of children and adults tuned in every Sunday, and tens of thousands have been reunited. His radio show ‘Sisi Kwa Sisi’ (Children for Children), saw 20 child reporters address the problems, challenges and frustrations faced by children in refugee camps by teaching them to speak from the heart and not be afraid.
In 2009 he won the International Children’s Peace Prize. “I was amazed at age nine to learn that kid’s actually have rights,” he says. “I wanted to see what I could do with this new information. By defending my rights I worked on my future; it’s the only way to escape these camps.