Pascal Madihano Bayongwa, Bukavu
Watch Pascals story below:
How co-existing together.
The peace artisanPascal’s voice is soft, he sometimes stumbles over words, but it doesn’t prevent him from sharing difficult memories, painful to hear. This 34 years old man, “peace artisan” and inhabitant of South Kivu province, speaks about it almost like a tale: “The story began in 1924 with the Rwanda war between Hutu and Tutsis. When refugees entered Congo, it is then that the story began”. This story is the story of his country, of his community, in the Kaniola area.
Massacres born from warA misfortune rarely comes alone, and Pascal’s tale is a proof of that. “The refugees (from Rwanda) came to Congo and became FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), and those FDLR spread in our villages of South Kivu. In my community, there were FDLR who each time would commit massacres, repetitive massacres. Those massacres caused a lot of deaths, a lot of violence towards women, rapes, and a lot of others problems”. Those massacres were the trigger of Pascal’s commitment. In front of the gravity of the situation, the absence of any reaction from the authorities, and the dramatic social and economic consequences it had, he decided to campaign by himself, for peace.
When I saw that some children were victims of those massacres, I told myself that it was a big problem in our society.“Particularly because those children were left to their poor condition, because their parents had been killed, if not the father, then the mother.”
Peace thanks to non-violencePascal’s method seems simple. However, in a territory tortured by armed conflicts, a simple positive action has the potential to become a real instrument for change. First, he tried to understand and to analyse the situation, in order to be capable to fight it in the most effective way possible. “As an inhabitant of this community, I saw that people, especially young people didn’t understand this massacre phenomenon caused by the FLDR. That’s why I, as an inhabitant, started to raise awareness among those young people, to make them understand what had happened, because the massacre is part of history”. In front of those animosities and this absence of dialogue, Pascal chose words and forgiveness as his weapons.
My strategy was to go from door to door to tell people about the massacre.“My theme was “co-existing” together”: because of the massacre, people don’t love each other anymore. The massacre has created hatred, tribalism, and even a system in which people only interact with others in their small group. So I worked on this theme to explain to them that if we continue to think about the massacre, we have to do something.”
If we look forward, if we think about creating, if we have ideas and we put them in service of youth, of women, then people won’t have the chance to go fight in armed groups, to go rob, kill or rape women.
Words…and practical measures!If the pedagogy and the implementation of a true dialogue with members of his community were the starting point of Pascal’s action, he remains someone practical. In his analysis, he understands the negative impact that idleness and unemployment can have on youth. “My action was to campaign for creating jobs because the war and the massacre impacted youth greatly. Investors who’d have the means to invest, who could invest in Kaniola, were afraid.”
To remedy this lack of employment with the consequences it has, I worked on creating AGE, which is a set of activities with quick income impacts in our respective communities.Words and actions, in order to allow his community to go forward, going beyond difficult moments from the past.