Kidnapped Boy Reunites with Family
A throng of villagers waited on the roadside as the NP vehicle slowly pulled up, carrying in it Pitia, an 11-year old boy who had been kidnapped a year earlier in April 2011. NP Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeper Kudzanai Mativirira handed the boy over to his mother.
One by one, his family members lined up to embrace and welcome him home. Hoisted on his father’s shoulders, Pitia broke into tears when he saw his family for the first time. The community circled the boy and offered a prayer of thanks, before slaughtering a sheep on his behalf, and moving to the village center for the official welcoming ceremony. Before long he was surrounded by old friends, and for the first time that day, his face broke into a shy smile.
“Pitia was so happy to be reunited with his family. He felt he was now with his people,” said Mativirira from Zimbabwe.
I felt like I had done a very good thing with the team. It was a moment of joy and laughter – everyone was rejoicing. It was a great day in my life,” she added.
Pitia Emmanuel Laku Ladu and his friend Kenyi were abducted while grazing cattle steps from their village in Legeri Boma, South Sudan. Pitia was taken to a different state, given a new name and forced to look after livestock everyday. He was regularly beaten and permanently scarred on his head as a result of a beating for refusing to do work. Inter-tribal child abduction is not an uncommon practice in South Sudan, where children are used as slave labour or sold to other tribes to raise money for more cattle.
In August 2011, Pitia’s father contacted NP to report the abduction. NP engaged all relevant stakeholders including UN agencies, security actors and local and international civil society including the local community, tribal leaders and government agencies in its tireless search for Pitia. After several months, NP received a report from its implementing partner in Pibor, near the border with Ethiopia, of children rescued during a government disarmament exercise. After investigating the details and making several visits to his hometown, NP was able verify Pitia’s identity. NP took custody in November 2012, and together with the Ministry of Social Development, prepared Pitia and re-united him with his family and community, who hosted the celebration on his behalf.
Violent conflict often shatters the lives of innocent civilians, which can take years, if not generations, to put back together. This is another example of how NP, by utilizing Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping activities, is helping to rebuild the lives of those affected by violence, which creates an atmosphere conducive to all manner of negative activities including the trafficking of children.
Watch the video of Pitia during the day of his reunification with his family narrated by International Civilian Peacekeeper and Team Leader of the Juba Child Protection Team, Kudzanai Mativirira.