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Your location>Home>Publications>PeaceWays>Fall 2009

   
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Editorial Comment

Why We Should “Love Thy Neighbor”
By Angela Forcier

Why I Do What I Do: Life in Bududa, Uganda
By Barbara Wybar

HROC and the Batwa Ethnic Group in Rwanda
By Theoneste Bizimana

Living Abundantly
By Deborah Dakin

A Bumpy Road to Mediation By George Brose

Applying These Teachings: Testimonies from Congo
By Zawadi Nikuze

Reconciliation?
By David Zarembka

Reaching a Common Reconciliation
By Adrien Niyongabo

Welcome Back
By Dorcas Nyambura

 

 

Applying These Teaching: Testimonies from North Kivu, the Congo
By Zawadi Nikuze

Salome Mapendo Sife is a 31 year old mother of eight. The children range from age 11 months to 14 years old.

My husband and I are originally from Shabunda in South Kivu but my husband was working in Mweso Hospital as a nurse. Life was good in Mweso, my husband was earning a good salary and I had a kitenge (African fabric) business, sold salted fish and had a small cosmetics shop. We had been living in Mweso for a year when the war erupted. That was the turning point of our life.

On September 7, 2007, war broke out in the Congo and we left with our children. We were fearful to carry anything else. The whole village was on the road, some people were able to carry a few belongings and cattle. On the way, I lost my 7 year old daughter and I got more depressed. We arrived in Bulengo internally displaced persons’ camp on September 13, 2007. By God’s grace, I found my daughter in the camp with other lost children. She was with another little girl, whom we later adopted.

We were extremely hungry, tired, thirsty, dirty, and had no shelter. During the day, we were roasted by the sun and in the night we were soaked with the rain. Each family was entitled to 5 liters of water per day; there were only 4 latrines for thousands of us. Due to lack of proper sanitation, cholera broke out and many people died. Other people drowned in lake because we did not know how to safely fetch water.

Life continued to be difficult and I contemplated joining my father in Kindu. I then learnt that he had been killed with my 5 brothers, my 3 uncles, my grandparents and family friends. They had taken refuge at our farm and the killers had found them there. This made my life even more difficult and I wished I was also dead!

At the same time, my husband could not stand the suffering and joined a group of stressed men who used to drink the local brew from morning to evening. This brought a lot of quarrels and fights in the home. The children suffered the most for both my husband and I were taking our stress to them. The idea of running away with children came to my mind because my husband was becoming more violent and we were all frustrated.

When the Friends Church under the Goma Relief program begun the training in Bulengo camp, my husband was among the first group. After the 3 days of HROC workshop, he shared what he learnt and he begun changing a bit. He stopped spending his whole day drinking.

In October 2008, I also attended a HROC workshop and I was really blessed. The sharing moment helped me see that there are other people who are also suffering even more than me. Johari’s Window [a HROC exercise where you realize how others see you and how you see yourself] also helped me to understand myself and others. I have also attended the Alternatives to Violence workshop which has been helpful too. Now I consult with my husband and there is no more violence against our children.

I had developed hatred against Tutsis because they are the source of our suffering but we have some Tutsi here in the camp and we are all undergoing the same suffering. I tried to find out who killed my father and all who were with him and I was shocked to learn that it was his own people, our own tribesmen. This changed my perception and I am no longer discriminative. I apply all these teachings in my Women’s Loan Group work, especially when there is a difficult conflict. I thank everyone, including the donors and facilitators, for the different peace workshops they bring to us in the camps for we live in a conflict environment.

Floribert Mushi is a 36 year old married father of five. He too has adopted a child.

I came from Ngungu in Masisi. Right now I am based at Mugunga internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp. I am a nurse by profession but I used to be a farmer, too. I led a good life in Ngungu. Professionally, I was well paid and my farming was also doing well. I used to harvest 30 sacks of potatoes, 20 sacks of peas, and 18 sacks of beans which I would sell in Goma. I also had livestock which I used to sell in our local market. But, by the time I fled, I only had 25 sheep which were all eaten by the militias.

I fled in November 2006 with nothing. Life was difficult in the camp; no shelter, no water, no food. We slept outside for 6 months. This situation made me a bitter, unhappy man. I was developing some hatred towards some people and ethnic groups.

In May 2008, I attended the HROC workshop, then AVP, conflict transformation, mediation and I also participated in setting up the peace committee of Mugunga. All these peace teachings have helped me a lot in dealing with day-to-day conflict in the camp. My wife also got a chance of participating in HROC and this helped us manage the trauma in us and in our children.

In March this year, my tent was torched by bad people in the camp and all the belongings perished in the fire. These guys were caught and the camp directing committee was suggesting to delete their names from the list of IDPs but I said, “No, let’s settle this by peaceful ways of dialogue”.

Now I use these teachings in resolving differences in my family and in the community. We thank you for such teachings for it helps us in difficult situations. Please take these teachings to the people in our villages for they are suffering and are very traumatized. I was there recently and they are undergoing a lot of things. They are in conflict and there is no peaceful cohabitation between the farmers and cattle owners. I strongly believe that they will change like we did in the camp.

Next article: Reconciliation? By David Zarembka