Stories of Peacemakers: Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Mozambique
Early this year United Methodist women from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Mozambique gathered at Africa University (AU) in Zimbabwe to explore their roles as women peace builders. The event was co-sponsored by United Methodist Women and the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance of AU. All attended workshops to learn about peace building concepts, negotiation skills and the specific impact conflict has on women's health and wellbeing. Learning and preparation to train others back home happened through simulation exercises, role playing and strategy sessions to jointly come up with ways to promote peace in communities throughout all three countries.
The United Methodist Women of Mozambique shared that they now live in peace, but it is a peace that is threatened by instances of violent political speech. Constant vigilance from the women of the church in communities all over the country influences the continuance of peace.
United Methodist Women of Rwanda consider the promotion of justice as key to keeping the peace for all people. Today, there is less reference to tribal groups than references to Rwandans. All are to be treated equally and have access to healthcare and public education.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, peace remains a goal and a dream of women and children, not yet a reality. These United Methodist women asked all to imagine what the consequences of 20 years of war would be. Congolese refugees are all around Africa, Europe and the United States. Many are displaced within the country. The women of the church do all they can to feed and supply the displaced persons living in camps with the very basic of human needs.
Whether in the midst of conflict, or freshly released from it or years away from war, peace is tenuous at best. Women learning peace building skills, strategizing for effective plans to build a base of support for peace from the community up, and women advocating for peace at all levels nationally and internationally will strengthen the movement. It will also empower women to take further steps, speak louder and join more and more of their voices together to demand peace and seats at the tables where peace agreements happen.
Oh God of yesterday, today and tomorrow hear our prayer. Hear our fear and strengthen our souls that we might stand with sisters suffering and fearful in Africa and around the world. Hear our anger and teach us to turn it into passion that all might be convinced of your peace and your wisdom. Hear our hesitancy and thrust us into commitment to love as you have loved us.
Carol Van Gorp is the executive for international ministries, United Methodist Women