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In DR Congo, Capoeira helps child soldiers heal mental scars of war

FRANCE 24 screen grab

Former child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are learning capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, as a way of recovering from war and transitioning back into their communities. FRANCE 24 reports on this unique, UN-backed initiative.


At the transition centre in the Congolese city of Goma, the children aged between 12 and 17 years, learn how to duck and throw kicks, but also how to intone the songs that are an essential component of capoeira.

UNICEF officials supporting the project say the lessons allow the kids, all former combatants, to quickly integrate and create connections, regardless of their ethnic group or previous affiliation to an armed group.

Participants say the rhythmic martial arts form helps them forget the killing and rape that once was a part of their everyday existence.

Around 300 children have taken part in the therapeutic programme during its first six months. However, an estimated 3,600 child soldiers are still waging war, mostly near the eastern border of the country.

Click on the player above to watch FRANCE 24’s full video report on former child soldiers in DR Congo.

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