Joel has taken on the responsibility of mentoring over 200 children by teaching them to skate (Photo: The Dreams Team Rollers)

By Kudra Maliro

In the midst of ongoing military operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to root out rebel groups in the east, children are withstanding the worst of the conflict's trauma.

However, in the town of Beni, a young man named Joel Kavuya is offering a unique solution: teaching young people how to skate as a way to reduce stress and curb urban crime.

Kavuya has taken on the responsibility of mentoring over 200 children, ranging from 8 to 25 years old, by teaching them to skate.

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Despite the challenge of convincing parents that the sport is not high risk, these young skaters are determined to represent Eastern Congo globally.

The Dreams Team Rollers group was founded in 2017 after a group of children he saw skating in Nairobi, Kenya inspired Kavuya.

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"I saw that these children were happy and free as a bird...I said to myself we need this sport for our children in DRC," Kavuya told TRT Afrika.

The group not only teaches skating but also provides psychological counseling to help young people cope with family problems, drug abuse, and war-related trauma.

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According to Kavuya, skating has become a way for these young people to forget their problems and experience the joy of childhood.

Justin Mumbere, a 19-year-old skater says that this group has changed his life.

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"A year ago, I used to be with friends who drank a lot of strong alcoholic drinks but since I'm here with Dream Team Rollers, I've left them all behind," says Mr. Mumbere.

"This team of skaters is like a second family to me - I've changed some mindsets," says Mumbere.

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Their determination has earned them the status of heroes in the eastern part of the country.

Despite the ongoing conflict, Joel and his young skaters are proving that Eastern Congo is not just about war; there is life and hope too.

TRT Afrika