Omari spends his days working the land and running his own small business in the city of Rugenge, in eastern DR Congo. Behind what appears to be a quiet and peaceful life, is the story of a man who spent more than a decade fighting in the bush as a rebel soldier and who would likely be dead if it were not for the help of local peacebuilder Flory and his dedicated team of volunteers.
Omari’s family, desperate for his return, contacted Flory’s Clubs of Peace to help them convince Omari to lay down his weapons and leave the armed group. After listening to what they said Omari agreed to return to his family.
Omari was a member of the Mai-Mai militia group – a group that strongly believes in black magic. All Mai-Mai are forbidden from eating cassava leaves as these are believed to rob them of their magic powers to deflect bullets. So for Omari’s family it was a sign that he had completely turned away from a life of gun battles and violence when he began to eat the leaves again. But for his old comrades it was an act of betrayal and the Mai-Mai leader ordered that Omari be killed.
The community was afraid, not just for Omari, but equally because of the threat of reprisals if Omari was to be attacked – they called on the Clubs of Peace to intervene again.The representatives went to speak to the Mai-Mai leader, they spoke of the need to rebuild the community, for the war had only destroyed the village and left people dead, and of how every person has the right to decide their own path in life. The leader, believing the truth of these words, supported Omari’s decision to abandon the rebels.
This story, and Omari’s freedom to live in peace, is a testament to the power of local expertise, peaceful intervention and dialogue to transform minds and free people from conflict.
You can support the Clubs of Peace by making a donation today, and help Flory and his team stop violence before it starts.