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  • Published

    23 April 2010
  • Written by

    Peace Direct

In a village desecrated by years of war in eastern Congo, the local village carpenter, Mr Padir welcomes his neighbours to join him as a Volunteer of Peace. As bloody conflict has torn his community apart and left people struggling in abject poverty, just keeping his family safe has been challenge enough. Yet Mr Padir knows that the only way his community can find its own solutions to conflict is by working together and he was one of first to sign up when Foundation Chirezi set up a community forum in his village.

People need to create peace in order to live in peace. - Mr Padir, village carpenter

Situated in eastern Congo – the gateway to the worst of the violence over the last 15 years, Kavinvira has extremely high levels of poverty and illiteracy, and the community is divided by accusations of witchcraft. Yet as of today there are 50 people, from religious leaders and tribal elders to Mr Padir, trained as mediators to help settle disputes without violence.

In the past two months, with funding from Peace Direct, Flory Kazingufu director of Chirezi Foundation, has set up two barazas – community forums – in the villages of Kavinvira and Kiliba. The forums are set up in collaboration with, and on the wishes of local authority and tribal leaders – ensuring they provide what the community needs most.

For the first time an organisation is involving us, and asking for our views about peace in our community – whenever you need us, call us and we will come. - Amisi, Tribal chief

Starting with Kavinvira, Flory has recruited and trained 50 members of the community to be ‘volunteers of peace’. These volunteers will lead activities in their communities to encourage tolerance of others, as well as providing a forum where people can air their grievances and find solutions to violence.

I am sure that if these peace seminars can be multiplied in all villages of South Kivu, we will restore lasting peace and all the conflicts between tribes and people can end. - Ali, Muslim leader

Over the next month these 50 volunteers will recruit more and more of their neighbours to join them, and mediate in the conflicts which threaten the fragile peace they and their neighbours depend upon. And in the village of Kalibi, a community divided by tribal difference and lack of job opportunities, Flory will train a further 50 volunteers. It costs just £13 per person to provide the training that can give people like Mr Padir the opportunity to help his neighbours find their way out of poverty and violence. Will you help Flory reach more people across eastern Congo?

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