16th June, Member States of the African Union are celebrating the Day of the African Child, prompting thoughts and actions. Living in Douala, Cameroon, in a home of one of Apprentis d’Auteuil’s partners, Chaîne Saint-Nicodème, 19 year-old Patrick is telling us all about his past and his hopes for the future.
"My mother left me when I was three years old. My father didn’t take care of me. I ended up in the streets of Douala. I had no goal, no desire to go to school. I hoped for just a little human warmth, explains Patrick Kombe Moussa, 19 years old. It was a street friend of mine who introduced me to the Chaîne des foyers Saint-Nicodème, how it worked and what it was for".
Taken in like 14 other boys, by the Nylon-Brazzaville home, Patrick studies electrical engineering at the De La Salle High School. "My day begins at 5 am with communal prayer. I have breakfast, make my bed, do a few chores and walk to school. I chose electrical engineering because it’s something I’m good at. I find this profession easy. And I love solving problems, and fixing things! I get back to the home at 4.15 pm. I have dinner then I do my homework before prayers and bed. On Wednesday evening, we get together to take stock of the week. To see what went well and what didn’t".
"When Sister Marie Roumy took me in, in 2006, she immediately put me at ease and very quickly convinced me to go to school and be a well-disciplined child! Me, someone who at home had never experienced family life, found a second family with her and the other children and adults in the Nylon-Brazzaville home, one of the Chaîne des foyers Saint-Nicodème. People who did not even know me showed me love; they gave me and many other boys and girls great comfort and reassurance".
"We all arrive at the home with our own set of problems. It’s hard for us to adapt to each other, to correct our behaviour, to respect the schedule of community life. But it’s good and very reassuring to be surrounded by people we can rely on. I play the guitar for fun, I write songs, I sing in a choir and like all the other young people, take part in circus workshops, which take place on Saturdays and Sundays".
In nine years, Patrick has turned his life around - he has studied, sung, discovered the job of electrician... « What dreams do I want to make come true? First of all, I’d like to serve as an example to show street children that they can live a better life. Secondly, by singing, I’d like to share my daily life with people, teach them a few tricks, and make them understand that just because a child is living on the street doesn’t makes him bad. Thirdly, I’d like more people to help troubled young people. » Patrick Kombe Moussa conjured up these dreams spontaneously, almost as if they were self-evident. He is mapping out a long, wonderful path for himself...
Day of the African Child
On 16th June, all member states of the African Union (AU) were invited to celebrate the Day of the African Child. Established in 1991, this day commemorates the uprising of 16th June 1976 when in Soweto, South Africa, students took to the streets in protest against the poor quality of their education and to demand the right to receive education in their own language. On 16th June, The African Union provokes thoughts and actions to address the challenges that boys and girls face on a daily basis. In 2015, this day coincides with the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Chaîne des foyers Saint-Nicodème and Apprentis d’Auteuil
Affiliated with the Congrégation des Sœurs du Saint-Esprit, Chaîne des foyers Saint-Nicodème founded in 1995, takes in and supports in Douala, Cameroun, boys and girls aged 4 to 25 years, street children, minors released from prison, abused children...In partnership with Apprentis d’Auteuil, it offers them the chance to get back into education, training schemes, and enables them to renew family ties and integrate into society.