Former FDLR child soldier Samuel, 15, sits in a makeshift classroom for a photo at UPDECO's reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Samuel spent two years in the Hutu-dominated militia group and left after realizing that it "was not a good team," he said. He wishes to return to school and has fortunately reconnected with his family, but is currently staying with a transit family during the three-month reintegration period many child soldiers experience before returning home.   This project was enabled by the International Women's Media Foundation.
       
     
ChildSoldiers-Intro.001.001.jpeg
       
     
 Children play on a swing set in UPDECO’s reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Poverty and a cycle of violence in the decades long conflict makes children susceptible to being forcibly recruited by the myriad militia groups operating in the east of the country.    
       
     
 Paterne, 14, Josue, 14, and Yamankai, 16, sit on bunk beds in the BVES transit center in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, on Friday, July 25, 2014. All three are former child soldiers in various militia groups in the east of the country, and are currently awaiting reintegration.
       
     
 Former PARECO child soldier Habyarimana sits in a makeshift classroom in UPDECO's reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     
 Young men and boys play an impromptu session of music, singing in an unfinished room as a part of their masonry project at the ETN Center in Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on Friday, July 18, 2014. The ETN Center, funded partly by UNICEF, MONUSCO and also supported by Finnish Church Aid, is one of the few training centers where former child soldiers and street kids are given an opportunity to learn a skill that can then get them jobs. The skills they can acquire can allow them to become masons, carpenters, mechanics, hairdressers, or tailors. They also learn how to cook and have recreational activities at the center, and accept young adults from 16-22 years of age. 
       
     
 Former child soldiers Mumbere, left, and Habyarimana, play football in the courtyard of UPDECO’s reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DR Congo, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Many child soldiers spend years in various militia groups in the east of the country, sometimes leaving them on their own accord, or after being convinced by elders or militia leaders to put down their weapons. The road to reintegration into society again is often a long one, especially if the child's family does not wish for them to return. Many of the boys and girls have missed out on years of schooling, and if they are older than 18, are not legally allowed to be in transit centers run by NGOs where they can receive some type of assistance in reintegration. Even so, many of these reintegration centers severely lack funding and therapists to help counsel the children, and they return home to the same conditions as before they joined the militia group. 
       
     
 Former child soldier Samuel, 15, spends his day playing football and partaking in activities at UPDECO’s reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DR Congo, on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     
 Felix, a former child soldier, at the BVES transit center in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, on Friday, July 25, 2014. 
       
     
 Former child soldier boys, some as young as 10, eat lunch at the BVES transit center in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, on Friday, July 25, 2014. Many transit centers, run by local NGOs and dependent on funding from other organizations like UNICEF, are often all former child soldiers have when demobilizing from a militia group. With three months to reintegrate in to society again after losing out on years of education, and without real psychological counseling or financial support, it is often rarely enough support to be children again. 
       
     
 A former child soldier holds a book of Psalms in UPDECO's transit center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     
 Former FDLR child soldier Samuel, 15, center, spends the afternoon at UPDECO's reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     
 Habimana, 15, a former child soldier with the FDLR and Mai Mai, lays on a bench with his broken rosary around his neck, in a makeshift classroom at UPDECO's transit center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     
 Former FDLR child soldier Samuel, 15, sits in a makeshift classroom for a photo at UPDECO's reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Samuel spent two years in the Hutu-dominated militia group and left after realizing that it "was not a good team," he said. He wishes to return to school and has fortunately reconnected with his family, but is currently staying with a transit family during the three-month reintegration period many child soldiers experience before returning home.   This project was enabled by the International Women's Media Foundation.
       
     

Former FDLR child soldier Samuel, 15, sits in a makeshift classroom for a photo at UPDECO's reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Samuel spent two years in the Hutu-dominated militia group and left after realizing that it "was not a good team," he said. He wishes to return to school and has fortunately reconnected with his family, but is currently staying with a transit family during the three-month reintegration period many child soldiers experience before returning home. 

This project was enabled by the International Women's Media Foundation.

ChildSoldiers-Intro.001.001.jpeg
       
     
 Children play on a swing set in UPDECO’s reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Poverty and a cycle of violence in the decades long conflict makes children susceptible to being forcibly recruited by the myriad militia groups operating in the east of the country.    
       
     

Children play on a swing set in UPDECO’s reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Poverty and a cycle of violence in the decades long conflict makes children susceptible to being forcibly recruited by the myriad militia groups operating in the east of the country. 

 

 Paterne, 14, Josue, 14, and Yamankai, 16, sit on bunk beds in the BVES transit center in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, on Friday, July 25, 2014. All three are former child soldiers in various militia groups in the east of the country, and are currently awaiting reintegration.
       
     

Paterne, 14, Josue, 14, and Yamankai, 16, sit on bunk beds in the BVES transit center in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, on Friday, July 25, 2014. All three are former child soldiers in various militia groups in the east of the country, and are currently awaiting reintegration.

 Former PARECO child soldier Habyarimana sits in a makeshift classroom in UPDECO's reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     

Former PARECO child soldier Habyarimana sits in a makeshift classroom in UPDECO's reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC on Monday, July 21, 2014. 

 Young men and boys play an impromptu session of music, singing in an unfinished room as a part of their masonry project at the ETN Center in Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on Friday, July 18, 2014. The ETN Center, funded partly by UNICEF, MONUSCO and also supported by Finnish Church Aid, is one of the few training centers where former child soldiers and street kids are given an opportunity to learn a skill that can then get them jobs. The skills they can acquire can allow them to become masons, carpenters, mechanics, hairdressers, or tailors. They also learn how to cook and have recreational activities at the center, and accept young adults from 16-22 years of age. 
       
     

Young men and boys play an impromptu session of music, singing in an unfinished room as a part of their masonry project at the ETN Center in Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on Friday, July 18, 2014. The ETN Center, funded partly by UNICEF, MONUSCO and also supported by Finnish Church Aid, is one of the few training centers where former child soldiers and street kids are given an opportunity to learn a skill that can then get them jobs. The skills they can acquire can allow them to become masons, carpenters, mechanics, hairdressers, or tailors. They also learn how to cook and have recreational activities at the center, and accept young adults from 16-22 years of age. 

 Former child soldiers Mumbere, left, and Habyarimana, play football in the courtyard of UPDECO’s reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DR Congo, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Many child soldiers spend years in various militia groups in the east of the country, sometimes leaving them on their own accord, or after being convinced by elders or militia leaders to put down their weapons. The road to reintegration into society again is often a long one, especially if the child's family does not wish for them to return. Many of the boys and girls have missed out on years of schooling, and if they are older than 18, are not legally allowed to be in transit centers run by NGOs where they can receive some type of assistance in reintegration. Even so, many of these reintegration centers severely lack funding and therapists to help counsel the children, and they return home to the same conditions as before they joined the militia group. 
       
     

Former child soldiers Mumbere, left, and Habyarimana, play football in the courtyard of UPDECO’s reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DR Congo, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Many child soldiers spend years in various militia groups in the east of the country, sometimes leaving them on their own accord, or after being convinced by elders or militia leaders to put down their weapons. The road to reintegration into society again is often a long one, especially if the child's family does not wish for them to return. Many of the boys and girls have missed out on years of schooling, and if they are older than 18, are not legally allowed to be in transit centers run by NGOs where they can receive some type of assistance in reintegration. Even so, many of these reintegration centers severely lack funding and therapists to help counsel the children, and they return home to the same conditions as before they joined the militia group. 

 Former child soldier Samuel, 15, spends his day playing football and partaking in activities at UPDECO’s reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DR Congo, on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     

Former child soldier Samuel, 15, spends his day playing football and partaking in activities at UPDECO’s reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DR Congo, on Monday, July 21, 2014. 

 Felix, a former child soldier, at the BVES transit center in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, on Friday, July 25, 2014. 
       
     

Felix, a former child soldier, at the BVES transit center in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, on Friday, July 25, 2014. 

 Former child soldier boys, some as young as 10, eat lunch at the BVES transit center in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, on Friday, July 25, 2014. Many transit centers, run by local NGOs and dependent on funding from other organizations like UNICEF, are often all former child soldiers have when demobilizing from a militia group. With three months to reintegrate in to society again after losing out on years of education, and without real psychological counseling or financial support, it is often rarely enough support to be children again. 
       
     

Former child soldier boys, some as young as 10, eat lunch at the BVES transit center in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, on Friday, July 25, 2014. Many transit centers, run by local NGOs and dependent on funding from other organizations like UNICEF, are often all former child soldiers have when demobilizing from a militia group. With three months to reintegrate in to society again after losing out on years of education, and without real psychological counseling or financial support, it is often rarely enough support to be children again. 

 A former child soldier holds a book of Psalms in UPDECO's transit center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     

A former child soldier holds a book of Psalms in UPDECO's transit center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. 

 Former FDLR child soldier Samuel, 15, center, spends the afternoon at UPDECO's reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     

Former FDLR child soldier Samuel, 15, center, spends the afternoon at UPDECO's reintegration center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, on Monday, July 21, 2014. 

 Habimana, 15, a former child soldier with the FDLR and Mai Mai, lays on a bench with his broken rosary around his neck, in a makeshift classroom at UPDECO's transit center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC on Monday, July 21, 2014. 
       
     

Habimana, 15, a former child soldier with the FDLR and Mai Mai, lays on a bench with his broken rosary around his neck, in a makeshift classroom at UPDECO's transit center in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC on Monday, July 21, 2014.