It’s bitter sweet. It’s profound. It’s a story of love and loss. #DorsenRichard
In February 2017, Dorsen, 8 and Richard, 11, were filmed by Sky News mining cobalt in the DR Congo. It was traumatic to watch. Alex Crawford said, “This is what hopeless looks like,” and it was true. Hopelessness was in their eyes. On their face. In their lives. That night, I didn’t sleep. The suffering of children haunts every decent person.
These children were the subjects of a terrible story and I knew I was part of their misery. I own a smartphone, a laptop, a camera – various products powered by lithium ion batteries, containing cobalt, which could have been mined by children.
I felt I had to help, somehow. Through Facebook and a bit of Googling, I made contact with Ian Harvey, the director of the registered charity: Congo Children’s Trust which manages a project called Kimbilio (meaning “sanctuary”) in Lubumbashi, DR Congo. Ian had seen the Sky News film and was concerned about the boys. With his years in Congo, and his work there, he knew all too well the plight of Congolese children. He offered them a place at the Kimbilio home if the boys could be relocated. We asked Sky to go back and find them. Nick Ludlam, Africa Editor got in touch and a team, with reporter, Alex Crawford, went back to Congo last week and relocated the boys on 2 May 2017.
Images: Sky News and Kimbilio
The boys were mining cobalt alongside their fathers in a situation of terrible poverty and hardship. Both boys have lost their mothers. With little notice, the boys fathers agreed to let Dorsen and Richard go with the Sky team to start a new life at the children’s sanctuary, Kimbilio. This is a profound and loving sacrifice made by these dads. Dorsen’s dad said, “You know you’re my best friend.” He bathes Dorsen to send him on his way, saying, “Dorsen, go and study hard. Don’t fight with anyone. Don’t worry. I will come to see you. Don’t think I’m going to stay here and die, no. I’ll be here for you.” What a dilemma for a parent to be faced with.
Separating gives the boys a chance of a childhood, of food and education. Surely there’s a way to help the fathers and this community? We have no conception of the poverty they endure. Thank God, the boys will have love, friendship and nurturing from other children and their carers. This is an opportunity that they never thought they could have. The Sky News film was aired tonight, 10 May. Here’s the website link: http://news.sky.com/…/cobalt-mining-boys-given-hope-but-man… It’s moving and is the beginning of their story.
I want the corporates to step in with some practical help. Wouldn’t they get positive publicity if they did? So far, all I’ve got from corporates (Nokia, Volkswagen, Samsung, Lenovo), is politically correct statements. None have bothered to answer my questions, stated so clearly, or to mention Dorsen and Richard by name. It seems they just don’t want to be involved. What do I think – shame on them. They are desperately disappointing. Their products don’t seem so great to me now.
We will continue, my friends and colleagues, to campaign and fundraise. I’m new to this. Others have been working hard for so long. Together, we must support Dorsen and Richard, and help other children escape the crushing and dangerous labour of the mines. Kimbilio is a trustworthy and proactive registered charity. You can donate via their fundraising page. We have donated £600 + £100 Gift Aid, to Kimbilio. This will directly help Richard and Dorsen. To all of those good people who have donated – THANK YOU for your support. You were kind enough to trust me and it worked out.
It would be wonderful if you could continue your support. You can find the link to Kimbilio’s fundraising page, and our shop, on our website. www.cobaltchildren.org
100% of everything sold goes to help Congolese children.
Thank you. THANK YOU for your concern and your kindness. Thank you for every donation. When people slave 12 hours for pennies, £1 makes a difference. Every penny is appreciated. The money has reached these children. When a child is rescued from abject misery, it is life changing for all concerned. This has changed my life and I will continue this work – one child at a time, as they saying goes.
Let’s celebrate Dorsen and Richard and their fathers. They did good. With their bodies and few words, they told their story. It is a story of exploitation and abuse, of endurance and survival. We, as consumers, are the problem. We are also the solution.
Corporates – you are part of the solution also. I’ll post the PC statements online tomorrow. They make me feel desperately disappointed in them. I will give respect where it’s due.
Any progress on behalf of the children and adults who have had such a raw deal is worthwhile. Small steps are part of big journeys.
Good luck, Dorsen and Richard. We send our love and support. Thank you for the cobalt in my smartphone. I’m ashamed you had to mine it. I will try to make reparation.