Since 1989, Murhabazi and his organisation BVES has freed 4,000 child soldiers and more than 4,500 girls who have been sexually assaulted by armed groups, and taken care of 4,600 unaccompanied refugee children. Murhabazi has made many enemies during his struggle for the thousands of children being exploited and tortured in war-torn DR Congo.
“The fight for children’s rights here is a matter of life and death. And I’m prepared to die in that fight, every day,” says Murhabazi Namegabe.
He remembers when he got a message: “You're going to die tonight. Eat your last meal!” Murhabazi read the short message while he was in an important meeting with the UN, discussing children who were being forced to become soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He looked around cautiously. Had someone in the room sent him the death threat?
His 35 homes and schools offer some of the world’s most vulnerable children food, clothes, a home, healthcare, therapy, the opportunity to go to school, security and love. Most of the children are reunited with their families. Thanks to Murhabazi, some 60,000 children have passed through the doors of BVES’ various centres and been given a better life. Murhabazi and BVES represent children in DR Congo by constantly urging the government, all armed groups, organisations and everyone else in society to look after the country’s children.
Not everyone supports Murhabazi’s struggle. He has been imprisoned and assaulted and is constantly receiving death threats. Seven of his colleagues have been killed.
Learn more about Murhabazi and the children he fights for in the magazine from 2011:
The facts and figures on this page were accurate at the time of writing, in 2011
Text: Andreas Lönn, Photos: Bo Öhlén