There have been a series of complex conflicts in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the past three decades, involving over 40 different armed groups.
When he was a child, Theodore's family fled an attack on their village and settled in a camp for internally displaced people. in 2008, during the violent ‘Battle of Goma’, his father and mother were killed and he fled again, this time on his own as a 14 year old. We've changed his name here to protect his identity.
He travelled by land through several African countries, and ultimately, after a journey of over 18 months, arrived in the UK aged 16.
Theodore was taken into the care of the local authority and given a temporary form of leave to remain in the UK that would last until he was seventeen and a half years old. He was placed in a house with other separated children who had also recently arrived. In the house, Theodore struggled to communicate and make friends because whilst he spoke French, the other boys spoke Dari or Arabic. He suffered from regular flashbacks of the violence he experienced in his home country and found it difficult to sleep at night because of the images in his mind of all he had seen.
"The hope of getting an education was the main thing that kept me going. You have helped me like no one else has helped me. Every time I think of you I say thank you God because you have helped me study better."
Despite his interrupted education, Theodore has always wanted to become a teacher. When he arrived in the UK, REUK helped him get a place in an ESOL class at college and matched him with Aaliyah, one of our educational mentors. When he first met with Aaliyah, Theodore told us that she was the only adult in his life who was not paid to engage with him, but was doing so simply because she wanted to.
This simple fact started to help him feel less alone and isolated. Theodore has now been mentored for just over a year, and his teacher tells us that since being matched with a mentor his confidence has grown, his insomnia has reduced and he has made faster and better progress with his studies.