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19/11/2010 - Democratic Republic of the Congo - Universal Children’s Day: a story
(ANS – Goma-Ngangi) – On the occasion of Universal Children’s Day  which will be held tomorrow 20 November, the Salesian Info Agency reports the story of Clarisse, a little Congolese girl living in the “Centre des Jeunes” in Goma-Ngangi. Her experience of violence and of being rescued, is an encouragement for everyone to celebrate Universal Children’s Day every day of the year.

On 22 October Fr Piero Gavioli, Rector of Goma-Ngangi, welcomed at the Salesian centre a little girl of about 8 years of age, Clarisse, accompanied by the Red Cross and will her older brother Jean. Clarisse had been taken there from the Hospital in Rutshuru, while waiting for a plane to arrive to take her to Kisangani, where the rest of her family was waiting for her.

Clarisse’s Dad, an electrician with SNEL (National Electrical Society), was recently transferred from Kalemie to Kisangani, over 1000 km away. Having left on his own he then sent for his family, his wife and seven children to join him. At the beginning of the journey everything seemed to be going well  but on  1 October, 100 km  north of Goma, where the road goes through the Virunga National Park, the minibus in which Clarisse and her family were travelling was attacked by about fifteen armed men.

They made the 18 passengers get down and then forced them into the forest shooting to frighten them. Then they took from them everything they could steal, and as they were leaving they took little Clarisse with them.

Hearing the shooting some regular army soldiers along the road came up and followed the robbers into the forest shouting loudly “Clarisse”; but the little girl – as she later explained- although hearing the shouts could not reply because the robbers were threatening her. In the meantime, told by the soldiers to leave, the passengers on the minibus set off again, except for Jean, to stayed behind to help the soldiers with the search.

Finally a soldier caught sight of a group and fired. A bullet hit Clarisse’s right leg and broke it. Only them did the robbers take to flight leaving her behind. Clarisse was taken to the hospital in Rutshuru, where the doctors, after having asked permission from the family by telephone had to amputate the leg.

In spite of her experience Clarisse is always smiling and quickly made friends with the other sick children. She has already begun to walk with a frame and will soon start using crutches, and then in about three months they will be able to fix an artificial limb.  Jean, in the meantime, is always close to her.

Published 19/11/2010

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