MAPENZI MUNYAGALA Paulin
Communication and Advocacy Officer, Africa Reconciled
GLPI October 2017 Alumni
Paulin is currently in-charge of the communication and advocacy work of an organization in DRC called Africa Reconciled, which works with youth and women to develop their leadership potentials.
Being in-charge of communication and advocacy, he manages a radio program which discusses issues related to peaceful co-existence, active non-violence and conflict resolution in the Great Lakes Region. This radio program, which he calls a “peace program”, is broadcasted among four (4) radio stations in the North and South Kivu province in the eastern DRC. Apart from managing this radio program, he also works as a correspondent for the Congo Forum website, which is an online platform raising awareness on issues affecting the peace and security in DRC.
He said that through his GLPI trainings in October 2017, he found himself a new identity as a “peace journalist”, given also his involvements in different forms of mass media. He became more committed in prioritizing peace promotion in his work. He also became more encouraged to give platforms for young people to talk about their involvement in peacebuilding, including establishment of peace clubs.
He believes that the GLPI trainings he attended in 2017 gave him great awareness about conflict analysis, peacebuilding, trauma healing, and sustainable development. The GLPI trainings also gave him several innovative ideas such as producing photo stories and writing several articles that encourage peace.
“I just would like to continue sharing with others my experiences, especially for us who address post-conflict issues despite the challenges involved in our work”, he shared. “We must know that peace must be an everyday commitment by accepting other people regardless of backgrounds, because we are all the same children of God. This is my daily commitment as a peace journalist, and I owe much of my inspiration to GLPI”, he added.
National Coordinator, Friends Women’s Association (FWA)
2016 Special Module Alumni (Reflective Peace Practice)
Parfaite is greatly involved in addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in Burundi. As such, she runs trauma healing workshops for GBV survivors through the Rape Survivors Support (RSS) program and organize them into self-help groups in order to collectively plan on economic opportunities to sustain their family needs. She shared how most Burundian women suffer in private homes because they are forced to become 100% economically dependent on their husbands without giving them the right to decide for their family’s welfare. By August 2018, the program was able to organize 20 self-help groups (comprising of 20 women per group), which is quite an accomplishment from starting with only 5 groups at the beginning of the year. Part of her work is coordinating a program called Action on Gender-Based Violence (AGBV) which is focused on involving religious leaders and locally elected leaders to take up on the role to prevent GBV in their respective communities.
Parfaite shared that GLPI had taught her to analyze a conflict well before intervening: “About the RSS program, we had been running trauma healing workshops. Then, we had to give small loans to women. They were not able to pay back. The result was that they could not come back to our center. They were again traumatized. Then, we started to organize trauma healing workshops only. After GLPI training, I have understood that we need to find another approach to empower women economically as this is the root cause of their suffering. Now, I am proud to have a total number of 400 women who are organized into self-help groups. This approach helps to increase their family income, but also it a good way to build relationships as they are meeting every week. They support each other if for instance one of them is hospitalized.”
Another learning she gained from GLPI is that efforts remain meaningless as long as the religious leaders and local administration are not involved in their initiatives. This is why since 2016, after the GLPI training, they have started to include them in their programs. “As a Pastor, some of my fellow religious leaders think that I have lost my pastoral call. For them, they interpret the Bible saying that women should submit to their husbands. For them, they interpret the Bible in a wrong way”, she said, believing that everyone has important role in respecting the rights of women in the family and in the society as a whole.
Peace Libraries Coordinator, Transformational Leadership Centre (TLC)
2018 Special Module Alumni (Youth Peace Clubs)
Francine is working with the Transformational Leadership Centre (TLC) in Rwanda which works on peacebuilding and manages five (5) children’s peace libraries in the country. She coordinates these five peace libraries, and guides children who come to their libraries to read and borrow books. She works with several children from neighbouring schools by training them through “peace mediation” program, which is a program they promote to help young people acquire the skills to solve conflict issues among their peers. The peace mediation program allows them to also form peace clubs in schools where they are working with, and encourage students to be part of these peace clubs.
“Through the GLPI training on youth peace clubs, I have learned a lot about understanding the difference between conflict and violence, the implementation of peace clubs, the different ways in which we can respond to children’s behaviours, and the importance of non-violent communication as a conflict resolution tool”, Francine shared about her learnings from GLPI.
“I have started to mobilize teachers to stop violence by allowing corporal punishment among students. I have also used the discussions from GLPI to be able to produce stronger proposals that would give us more capacity to organize youth peace clubs in Rwanda,” she added.
Finally, she had this to say to encourage others: “I want to stay that peace is not an action of one people. It asks many people to work together. If we want sustainable peace, we need to teach the youth, and help them to live peacefully in their day to day life.”
Coordinator, ECC MERU
South Kivu, DRC
GLPI October Institute 2016 Alumni
Before attending the October Institute in 2016, Romaine was already involved in protecting children who were affected by the inter-ethnic and land-based conflicts in Muterure in the Rusizi plain. This area has a history of cycle of violence among four tribes, such as the Twas, Barundis, Bafuliros, and Banyamulenges, who could hardly co-exist with harmony and peace. There were cases of massacres, cow thefts, and armed attacks, and always in situations like these, children are left to be the most vulnerable. She was greatly concerned about the plight of the children who have been exposed to risks and whose ability to go to schools are hampered by great insecurity. She wanted to understand the role she could play to mitigate the violence in her area, and to bring the conflicting tribes into reconciliation, so that they could live in peace and their children could enjoy a safe environment. When she finally attended the trainings at GLPI, and followed the course modules, she gained some ideas and tools, and learned from other participants, in terms of analyzing the conflicts in her area. She shared how she realized that while supporting the victims of conflict is a necessary intervention, it is not a sustainable solution. She saw how conflicts happen at different levels, and that an appropriate analysis of conflict is needed by different sectors of the society so that everyone can work together in addressing it. After the training, she returned to her community with greater hope, encouraging different people to do a conflict mapping among four tribes, to identify the causes and effects of the conflicts, and to identify collective solutions. Slowly, the different members of the tribes have started understanding the source of their tensions, and that instead of putting their energy into retaliation and violence, they try to work together to harmoniously co-exist. Romaine recognizes that reconciliation is a gradual process, but she is grateful that they have begun the process and is slowly reducing the tension and bearing fruits.
President, TIEP AMIZERO
GLPI October Institute 2004 Alumni
Before her training at GLPI, Edith shared that the actions of her organizations were limited only to presentation of theatre plays that raise awareness on culture and peace. But due to her training at GLPI, she had learned to incorporate different programs to have a more holistic approach on peace and development. Now they have expanded their range of activities, including counseling and trauma healing, land conflict resolution, livelihood projects for women, and several more. More importantly, their organization also set up a listening room, which is a space that they are able to use if they need to resolve misunderstandings, mediate any conflicts, or express their pain, grief or sorrow. They found that the listening room is such an important place for them to be heard and heal themselves from pain, wounds and trauma.
Monitoring and Evaluation officer, MIPAREC
GLPI October Institute 2006 Alumni
Espérance shared about the positive impacts of the training on their peacebuilding approach in Gitega especially among the young people. There used to be a lot of cases of thefts and violence perpetrated by youth in the city. Most of these cases were done under the influence of alcohol. The young people who perpetrate these crimes have experienced a lot of psychological and economic trauma due to being exposed to cases of violence themselves at a very young age whether within family or at a societal level. She shared that she introduced the concept of restorative justice and trauma healing to her organization to make some improvements on their approach towards the youth. Instead of considering them as perpetrators, they were welcomed to a safe space where they are allowed to share about their trauma, to let them understand why they resort to violence and crime, and to make them realize the different ways in which they can have better choices and a renewed life. Espérance shared that her organization had been facilitating those trainings incorporating what they have learned from GLPI, and she is grateful for the gradual changes happening to the community and that the practices of overconsumption of alcohol and that the number of young people going astray are slowly mitigating.
To our dear GLPI alumni, we would like to hear from you. Share with us how you have applied what you have learned from the GLPI trainings and how you have continued your work for peace and justice. Click this form where you can share with us about your stories and testimonies. You can also send us photos and videos describing your current work by e-mailing them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate the year and the course module which you have taken at GLPI. We hope to hear from you soon!