Simon Mukenge, Goma
Watch or read Simons story below:
I thought that, to express my anger, to be sure that my rights are safe, I had to join Lucia
The activistSimon is 28 and already talks with a self-confidence born from experience and past difficulties. He is involved in a local organisation called Lucia that “works for change”. And if he is asked to explain why he chose to join the association, he answers by telling his own story: “When I was a student, they tried to raise the school costs and at the same time my brother encountered problems with his shop. His store burned, and he was the one to support me. That was a complicated situation for me. ”
We tried to ask for the school costs to be lowered to a reasonable price, but the academic, political and administrative authorities didn’t understand us.After being confronted with the inability to make himself through traditional communication ways, he decided to take the plunge.
I thought that, to express my anger, to be sure that my rights are safe, I had to join Lucia.
Non-violence as a leitmotifWhat is striking in Simon’s commitment is the paradox existing between a tangible determination, obvious in his voice and choice of words, and his key-values of non-violence that he always quotes.
We set up civil actions in the field when there are bad decisions taken by the authorities. When there is a problem that threatens a part of the population or a quarter, we organise a peaceful march, in a non-violent way, and we act this way for the advantage of the community.It is a civil and peaceful approach, refusing the use of violence which is so common in the DRC. However, those values shouldn’t lead to believe that Simon’s actions within Lucia are without effect. “For example, when we said “Goma wants water”, we put pressure on water public company, on the province governor, on all the institutions working with the water service”. Strong words, for a determination just as strong, and with immediate effects! “There are things that have changed (…) now there is an hourly system: some areas get water at this hour, others at that hour, and so all areas are served. And when the authorities take really unwise decisions, we put pressure in a non-violent way, and they change their position for the wellbeing of the population”.
Give hopeWhat characterises Simon’s action in Lucia, is the fact that it’s done for everyone, for the whole community. “It isn’t a movement for one group; it is a movement for all”. Simon is conscious that the first successes shouldn’t make him forget there will be some other long-term fights to lead.
Concretely, in Lucia, what we do for the society is to give hope that it is going to change even if it’s a long term process.