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
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
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
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
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
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