Their faces stared expectantly from their desks.
Not one of them was like the other.
A teenage mom with a baby on her back. A young man who could be mistaken for an up and coming rapper. A boy who asked if he could take the leftover avocado peels from lunch for his goat.
While they all appeared different on the surface, two things were certain: all of them had seen war, and all of them had a story.
The people I've described are all students in our summer creative workshop. For the next three weeks, children and youth of all ages will fill Justice Rising's school in Goma to learn how to tell their stories using the written word, art, photography and dance.
For students in Congo, summer is not a time to make plans with friends and have lazy mornings. On the contrary, it usually means wandering around the streets listlessly, searching for something to fill the hours with. Beyond just bring boring and unproductive, this can lead to the summer months being destructive to their future, with a wide variety of negative options available to idle hands.
We have seen how incredibly bright and passionate the youth in Congo are, and after just one day of workshops, we can already tell there will be some masterpieces made!