“He told me how he was taken by force at the age of 14 and forced to join an armed group.”
Lev made a recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he met with girls and boys who were mid-way through being rehabilitated after serving as soldiers in militia groups – some were as young as eight when they were recruited.
Lev recounts his experience meeting Alain, a 17-year-old boy, which was featured in The Metro newspaper’s My Life Through A Lens series.
“Alain (not his real name) who I met when he was 17 years old and just starting to adjust to civilian life again told me how he was taken by force at the age of 14 and forced to join an armed group,” says Lev.
“Those that couldn’t shoot well were beaten,” Alain said, as he recalled how many people he himself had killed, and watched be killed, in front of him.
Through the powerful work of Unicef and its local partners, Lev has seen how Alain has received vital medical support, education and counselling and is now being re-homed with a host family in the local community.
Alain hopes that he will someday soon return to school to catch up on all the education he missed during those years with the armed group. He dreams of becoming a teacher so he can help others get the education they so rightly deserve.
“Knowing Unicef is there, working around the clock to give them [children] the best chance possible to rebuild their lives, is something I am grateful to be able to support,” says Lev.
Unicef is working tirelessly to protect children everywhere, and give them hope for a happy future. We’re in communities, in refugee camps, wherever we’re needed, to provide education, psychosocial support and safe spaces for them to play and have some much-needed fun.
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Organisations like Unicef are working to tackle the root causes that are forcing people to leave their homes as well as ensuring that children and families making the journey are protected on every step of the way.
It is clear that this is a huge challenge and yet small things can make a huge difference.
Levison Wood: Shining a light on Unicef’s work with children
Levison Wood is a professional explorer, documentary maker, writer and photographer who has travelled and worked in over one hundred countries worldwide. He started his journey with Unicef UK in 2016 when he visited UNICEF programmes with refugees from the Syrian conflict in Jordan and Iraq at the Za’tarri and Dirbil refugee camps. Since then he has seen our work in Latin America as well as most recently the Democratic Republic of the Congo in October 2019 – shining a light on UNICEF’s work with children formerly associated with armed groups, photo-documenting their stories.
Lev was proudly appointed a Unicef UK High Profile Supporter in April 2020, in recognition of his years of active support for Unicef programmes and sharing his deep passion for supporting children everywhere.
Lev has spoken publicly on behalf of Unicef UK at high profile events such as the Cricket World Cup, and he has also provided invaluable support for numerous petitions and fundraising campaigns via his social media platforms – sharing Unicef’s message to his dedicated and passionate followers.