Joseph Tsongo lives in North Kivu in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a country already dealing with war, the deadly diseases of Ebola and measles, and now COVID-19.
He leads an organization called the Amani Institute, which uses theater to help young ex-combatants process trauma they have experienced and reintegrate into their communities. But virus restrictions now prohibit large public gatherings.
So he shifted tactics. Joseph and other volunteers began a public awareness campaign, focused on the virus. Through flyers — and in some cases a megaphone — they educate villagers in their region about virus developments and best safety practices. “We have been in some remote villages to spread the message everywhere,” he said.
The group is doing other practical things to help the community. Its garden is providing food for those who can’t afford it. “The fear is enormous because food prices have increased since this crisis,” Joseph said. “Coronavirus or not, we will have in more or less three months, fresh vegetables to feed woman survivors of sexual violence” and other members of the community. It’s called Shamba la Matumaini or “garden of hope” in local Swahili.
And after the virus subsides?
Joseph is already thinking about ways to tailor his organization’s theater workshops, which are designed in the psychodrama style, to encourage people to express their emotions to process the trauma caused by the virus quarantines and deaths. He said:
Please consider donating on #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5. Providing your support on a monthly basis will ensure that the work of local peacebuilders will continue. Your contribution will be matched up to $3,000, giving your donation an even greater impact. Thank you for your support!
During a siege in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, bombs blasted, the sounds of shelling filled the air, and cries were heard. Amal’s three children were scared. She did what she could to protect them - trying to distract them from the conflict going on around them with games and toys. Read more »
'Refreshing Skills & Strategies; Continuing Professional development for Practitioners working in Conflict' is a five-day online training course run by Peace Direct and Coalition for Peace in Africa. Read more »
Following the resignation of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita yesterday, we call on the country to begin to reconnect with its people to avoid escalating tensions, rising conflict and a potential health emergency brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Read more »