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Kenya Reports

Report #56
June 25, 2008

Here are excerpts from the report I received from Zawadi Nikuze concerning the Healing and Rebuilding Our Communtiy (HROC) program in North Kivu. If you would like the complete 7 page reports, please email me and I'll send it to you.

To refresh your memory, North Kivu, a province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) west of Rwanda, is engulfed in continuing fighting with hundreds of thousands displaced people. The issue is very complex with at least five major groups--a Tutsi warlord army, Hutu who participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the local Congolese groups called the Mai-Mai, the national Congolese army (mostly from western
Congo so the soldiers do not speak Swahili and can't communicate with the local people), and MONUC, the United Nations peacekeeping force (which is not "neutral" in North Kivu as they support the government troops).

Most of the workshops reported here were done in the internally displaced camps near Goma, the capital city of North Kivu.

I particularly like this testimony since if everyone in Africa followed this, there would be a much politer society--in fact we could do this all over the world and it would be a better place.

"Most of the time we are ignorant. We live a violent life without knowing. I have realized how much I have been violent to my wife and children. Thanking a child after he has brought you something is very important. Thanking a wife after she has given you food is very important. I used to say that it’s her duty to give me food therefore there was no need to thank her. I have decided to change--the little things I used to consider of no use are very important!"

Ethnic favoritism is also a major problem in this region and here are two testimonies where people who have discriminated against others vow to change:

" Before coming to this seminar, my heart was heavy and broken. I have been a bitter person because of all what has happened to us since 1997. I had lot of things, a nice house but now I live in a tent and sleep on the ground. I am the vice president of women of the camp. Whenever we distribute things, I normally favor people of my tribe. These teachings have touched and from today I will never favor people of my tribe when
distributing things."

"I am the “Chief of the block” here in the camp and I am a “Mtembo” [one of the North Kivu ethnic groups]. To be honest I don’t treat people from other ethnic groups fairly. Whenever I am distributing food, I give them less that what they are supposed to get. I have been a bitter man, planting seed of hatred. After these three days, I have decided to change and be a leader for all ethnic groups in the camp. When distributing food, I’ll give what is supposed to be given"

In so many of the testimonies, major changes in very concrete ways are so evident (after only a three day workshop!!!).

"I take care of two orphans. One of them has been behaving in a difficult manner and it was too much for me so I sent her away. Now, I have understood that she is traumatized as she lost her family in the war. I will go and get her back and help her as I can."

"I am a widow. My husband and my first born daughter were killed by Tutsi and since then I have been planting a seed of hatred in my children, telling them that Tutsis are our enemies. After hearing these teachings, I have decided to go and work on my children. Please pray for me too. I thank you for these good teachings."

"My father was killed before my eyes and some of those who killed him are here in the camp. I see them. I have been a bitter man, full of hatred and planning a revenge. When we were asked to write what has been burdening us and later on burnt, I tried to imagine that it’s the beginning of a new life. I have begun a journey I don’t care how long it will take but I know that these teachings have changed me! My concern is one, there are so many people who need these teachings, how will they benefit?"

"When RIZIKI got married she was happy that she got a Christian husband. Two weeks later, she discovered that her husband was hiding behind the house each evening to smoke and drink. She lived her dreams of a happy marriage two weeks only. What followed later were beatings every now and then. She was the breadwinner of the family but at the end of the day she received beatings and threats of being killed. Her children were not attending school for she could not afford the fees. She had even changed her name FURAHA [meaning "Happy"] to MATESO, she didn’t find that name suiting her. When she attended HROC workshop and she was asked to write down what burdens her the most, she said that she doesn’t know what to write for her life is full of problems and she can’t get enough paper to write for she has a lot--instead she started crying. The teachings helped her a lot and she’s now living a new life, trying to overcome and giving
hope to her children."

"I have been touched by these teachings. I am living here in an IDP camp after fleeing for my life. I was doing well. I was farming and producing for the market but now I have to survive waiting for food from somewhere. I always think of how to revenge and I hate anyone who is not from my ethnic group. After the session of a tree of mistrust I realized that my thoughts of revenge and hate contribute to it. If I want a better DRC I have to contribute by changing and being part of a trust tree and loving others. Now I have decided to change in order to plant a tree of trust."

But the workshops sometimes had their difficulties:

" As the training was going on, a man in uniform came and begun to attack the facilitators asking for money. The president of the camp called the police and the man was put in."

"The selection of participants was not balanced. One ethnic group had more than 15 people!"

"Participants didn’t come as they were invited. They preferred to go for Roger West (International Evangelist, Reinrard BONNKE’s son) seminar in the morning for they were given sitting allowance. [Note: it is a common practice in this part of Africa for non-profit organizations and churches to pay people--give them a sitting allowance--to attend a seminar. AGLI's programs do not do this and so sometimes people refuse to come to the AVP or HROC workshops because they are not being "paid." Frankly, if they
don't come for this reason, I am glad that they are not there.]

"Only one woman in the workshop."

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