Yanick, now 18 years old, is proud to be the spokesperson for the Children’s Parliament at the informal school of the child protection project in Kapata, DR Congo, after experiencing a troubled childhood. His father, who left the family when his new wife got pregnant, came back to DR Congo to take him away from his mother to Zambia when he was 2 years-old. His father’s new wife mistreated and often beat Yanick, depriving him of food and care. He almost died because of malnutrition.
At the age of 6, Yanick returned to DR Congo and found his mother married to a fisherman. His stepfather didn’t want him to study. When the family moved to Kolwezi, the capital of cobalt mining, Yanick’s stepfather took him overnight to secure the diggers’ wells in the Kapata quarry for only 2 dollars a day. During the day, Yanick often stayed in the mine to work and earn more money. Here, he found peers who taught him how to distinguish between copper and cobalt, and how to dig and sort minerals. When his stepfather died, life became tougher for Yanick because he had to work hard in the cobalt mines to feed his mother and his little brothers.
As it wasn’t easy for Yanick to get into deep wells to dig minerals, he started taking drugs, sniffing glue or gasoline. This helped him to mask his fear of dying. Since enrolling in Bon Pasteur’s program, Yanick has been attending secondary school. He dreams of becoming a leader, of changing things in his community and his country, and of making a better future for all children and their families.