This summer, as children across the world prepare for a new school year we need your help to get former girl soldiers back to school.

Many girls are abducted by armed groups in Democratic Republic of Congo. But some decide to join them because they are unable to go to school.

Joelle, 16 years old, from Rubari (North Kivu), told us: “I was pushed out of school for failing to pay the fees. So instead of roaming aimlessly in town, it was better to go and help them in the bush.”

But the life that awaits them in the bush is one of horror and suffering. Many told us they were forced to work hard and commit violent acts. Most were systematically raped.

Girls who’ve escaped from these groups are often branded as prostitutes and disease carriers when they come home. They’re outcast and stigmatised, and their future is compromised.

But what the girls told us is that education gives them a positive and valued identity in the eyes of their communities. And research proves that school can also alleviate the traumatic effect of war, and allow distressed children to develop a feeling of hope and self-worth.

Education is an effective way these girls can escape a future of poverty and isolation. A donation today will help these girls back to school, or attend literacy and catch-up classes.

All children have the right to education. Help us keep these girls in school and out of the bush.

Photo: Espen Rasmussen/Panos Pictures