Aimé Siri Balibuno, Goma

Young people have to trust themselves. Because they can. It is said “I want, so I can”. So I am capable of doing anything I can I want to.
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Active within and for her community

Aime Balibuno lives in Goma. Her story is similar to the story of other children in the DRC : “I was born in an extremely poor family. I grew up, and my parents split up. I had to support myself. I was doing little jobs, to pay my studies and to support myself, always in the community”. To this difficult family situation, she had to add the recurring armed conflicts in the South of DRC those last years. “After the war, the M23 came in the city of Goma. A lot of young people joined the movement because there was no work, there was nothing else to do”. In front of this, Aimé put in place a real plan of action, with the goal: strengthening the community in her community.

An “activity” as a solution

Aimé had the intelligence of implementing an activity with a double advantage: first, creating income and second, to mobilise young people by offering them something to do.
Some young people don’t realise they want to go away. We created a fish farm. We went to see the community’s representative. He recognised it was a need, and gave us the space. We dug out the pond.
And she adds in a proud way “We put fishes in it, and fish larvae. We initially put 400 fish larvae, and after 6 months we had produced more than 2000 fish that we are going to sell. The community is going to benefit from it, young people too”. Encouraged by the success of her initiative, Aime already thinks about the future: “For the moment it is one pond but after that we will look for digging 2,3 or 4 new ponds. It’s a first experience and we know that it’s going to be lucrative that we are involved in this project”.

The creation of a strong economy

Another particularity of Aimé’s action is her potential impact on a long-lasting development of her community.
With the money we receive, we try to find among us who wants to study, who wants to do something else. We don’t want everybody to work only in the pond. We asked young people which income generating activity they are capable of doing.
“For example, if one could sell fuel or coal, we count how much he would need, we give him the money, he works and after 1 month we’ll call him to evaluate what was positive, what was negative. We also pay school costs for others.” The community is the first to benefit from the income generated by Aimé’s initiative, allowing everyone to play a role. It’s a great bet on the future, which still holds many promises.

Put an end to preconceived ideas

For Aimé, leaving behind war-inherit difficulties must go through raising awareness among young people and involving them. “Before the activity, young people were dependent, they were doing nothing, and they were neglecting themselves. Young people believed that it’s only when you had studied that you can live and support yourself.”
With this activity, they became aware. They see that they can live thanks to themselves, they can initiate things, they can live, fill their own need and help others. We teach them also to think of others, how they can help also others.
From nothing, this young woman builds her own life, thanks to her hard work. Today, she can see the results of these efforts, and she invites other young people to follow her example with this encouragement:
Young people have to trust themselves - because they can. It is said “I want, so I can”. So I am capable of doing anything when I want to.
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