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An interview with Jérôme Froissart, Secretary General of AMADE Mondiale

Princess Caroline and Jérôme Froissart (L) pictured during their mission in the Congolese Republic last september AMADE's work features many successes since 2000: more than 66,000 vulnerable children have received regular school education, over 50,000 children have been treated for or cured of disease and 3,200 children living on the streets have found new homes.

Jérôme Froissart, what are the current projects of the child welfare organisation AMADE?

Our current programmes focus on the social and professional reintegration of children living on the streets of Congolese capital of Kinshasa; the demobilization of child soldiers in the east of the country; ensuring education for young girls in Burundi; and the fight against infant mortality in Mali. In addition, AMADE Mondiale works with many Syrian refugee children and underage immigrants who land alone on the Italian coast. We have launched an initiative for the accommodation of these young people as well as psychosocial and legal support and vocational training upon their arrival. We are currently working on programmes in Italy and Germany.

Millions of children are in need worldwide. Do you sometimes feel that your work has an impossible goal?

Yes, this can sometimes be really daunting. That children must be protected is something everyone can agree with, but when it comes to implementing the principles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the reality is quite different. Trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labor… These are all very lucrative activities for the perpetrators! Also the various threats and hazards vulnerable children face are not always visible, investigations are necessary and one is often confronted with terrible things. It iseasier to ignore it. 25,000 unaccompanied immigrant children have disappeared since their arrival in Europe. Who is talking about that? I can not forget the memories of visiting a camp in the north of Kivu with our president. Only 600 of 6,000 children living there went to school and only because the teachers had accepted to work for six months without pay. Breaking the cycle of violence in this region can only be made possible with a school education. Without that, there is no hope for a better future and the children will inevitably fall into the hands of the militia.

How is AMADE Mondiale funded?

AMADE finances its programmes thanks to the generosity of donors. If these have a special desire – where or how they want to help - we propose a specific programme. This can be a certain country or a natural catastrophe, which necessitates the construction of schools. Some support a specific project on a joyous event such as a birth or wedding. Instead of gifts, they call for donations. They also contributes financially to AMADE's social responsibility policy.

Princess Caroline has been the President of AMADE since 1993. How does she help AMADE specifically?

Princess Caroline is very active in the life of our association: she presides over the board, decides on strategies and partnerships, and also on special projects. In addition, she visits our antenna branches and therefore the children who benefit from AMADE. Her last mission took place last September. In the Congolese Republic she met, among others, young girls who were accused of witchcraft by their families and with former ‘street’ children and child soldiers.