Like any other person or community, we face conflicts in our life. Conflicts are inevitable, either from within or without. There are two ways of dealing with conflicts: you either run away from them or face them. Any conflict offers challenges and opportunities, especially when you decide to face them. Conflicts are started by man, using ignorant and heartless people to accomplish his selfish and evil ambitions. Conflicts end with the intervention and hard commitment of the peace-making people. Conflicts cause enormous damages on the lives of people.
When you fly over Bunia town, you see a dozen of displaced people’s camp, hosting more than a hundred thousand of people. Next picture is Boga hospital that was burnt last June.
I have never been trained in conflict resolution management, and peace building. I only found myself caught up in the Eastern Congo conflict and moved by trial and error in the process.
The Eastern Congo and Congo in general has gone through a decade’s conflict that has seen loss of many lives, displacement of people, destruction of infrastructure, and environment damage. The national government and the international community seem to have exhausted their breath on these Congo conflicts. People appear to have lost hope of a possible lasting peace.
In Ituri, the region where the Diocese is located, community and foreign armed groups have made life unbearable. Without losing hope and giving up, attempts are now being made to bring people around the table and find any small windows that could lead to peace. That is how I found myself caught up in the process, allowed to bring in my contribution as a religious leader. That task is not so easy, it demands sacrifice and taking risk.
When people get displaced what they need in priority is food and medicine, shelter and other needs come next. Host community, organizations do their best to meet the needs. But the greatest need is peace.
Displaced people, with elderly, women, and vulnerable go through a difficult time of being deprived of their property, identity, and dignity. They need care and encouragement.
With the government leaders, military officials, international organizations, religious leaders; efforts are made to bring peace to the region. The frame the government set to carry out that vision is the Program named P-DDRCS (Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Integration and Stability). In the second picture, I am entrusted to be in the Provincial Task Force to accompany the process.
I humbly request you to support the Diocese of Boga and the Bishop as we engage in this process with a neutral and independent approach and join with community partners. If we totally depend on government and international programs, there is possibility of being victims of manipulation and traffic of influence. To bring in our local initiation, combine with others will pave way to true dialogue on the road to lasting peace.
Colonel Rolax in blue suit who is one of the commanders of the FRPI, a militia group in Gety area attended passionately our open-air evangelism mission two years ago. Since then, he has been keeping close relationship with us. We are signatories of the agreement between FRPI and the Government of Congo, an agreement that is still on paper. Colonel David, another FRPI commander attended church that very Sunday morning. We have been engaging some other FRPI commanders.
That support will help us to put up a Diocesan task force, composed of some influential and peace-loving members of the Church from various tribal communities.
That task force must achieve the following.
As Jesus said in John 14:27, the peace he gives is special, different from the one the worlds can give. As the world is searching for peace in Ituri, Eastern Congo we should add in the taste of our Lord’s peace. Sometimes I hear people blame the Church for not doing enough in peace building!
Rt. Rev. BAHEMUKA MUGENYI William
The Bishop of Boga Diocese
The Province of the Anglican Church of Congo
800 Tuskawilla Road, Winter Springs, Florida 32708, United States