When Guilain was 14 years old, his life, and potentially his future, was shattered. ‘The militia came to my village,’ he says. ‘I tried to run. They were shooting people dead. I tripped over a landmine.’
Ituri province in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has experienced conflict for decades. Violence flared up in 1999 – that’s when Guilain’s life changed forever.
'MY LEGS WERE SHATTERED.'
A LIFE TORN APART
‘My legs were shattered in the explosion,’ he says. ‘The doctors later amputated what was left.’ Now aged 23, Guilain moves himself along the ground using his arms and hands as his legs and feet.
Even before the attack, Guilain’s life had been tough. His father died of malaria and he was forced to leave school aged 13 because his family didn’t have enough money for him to continue. So he set to work as a farm labourer. Guilain was digging in the fields when the militia came.
It’s hard enough to find work in the remote part of the DRC where Guilain lives. Violence means there’s little local employment and people live in fear of further attacks. His injuries mean that Guilain was not able to dig and farm – the only skills he had.
'WORKING WITH MY HANDS MAKES ME VERY HAPPY.'
Guilain was thrown a lifeline by Tearfund’s partner, Action Entraide. Thanks to the support of people like you, the team were able to start up the Bogoro skills training centre in the village, to empower those in most need with the skills needed to build better lives.
Dieuvain, one of the teachers at the centre, is also unable to use his legs after contracting polio in childhood. He took Guilain under his wing and taught him to weld and repair metal. This is a vital skill and a good livelihood in rural DRC, where most people travel by bicycle or motorbike, and the rough terrain often damages vehicles. Other equipment such as farming tools also need regular repairs.
Now, Dieuvain and Guilain have a thriving business together. ‘I used to just be idle in the village,’ says Guilain. ‘When I came to the skills centre I soon got a job. The training helped me to use my hands. Working with my hands makes me very happy.’
Life is tough for everyone in the DRC, but it can be near impossible for people living with a disability. Guilain has been able to rise above his circumstances, and see that he can do great things.
Dieuvain and our other partner staff were there to help Guilain rebuild his life. A monthly gift to Tearfund will make it possible for our staff and partners to be there for others when they need help the most. Will you join us?