venerdì 17 gennaio 2014

Congo: Beyond the Silence

The experience of a young woman who was inspired to save her country, by giving rise to a youth movement in favour of civil rights and duties.
“It’s not easy to describe what we’re going through in North Kivu, Congo, due to the terrible situation of conflict that has been unsettling my country for years. Our history has been filled with so much suffering that is still not overcome.
Since childhood, I belonged to a community of people who were genuinely living the Gospel. When I entered university I found myself in a different world. I saw people reaching to the point of killing one another because of tribal and ethnic differences. Corruption, fraud, revenge and many other evils were the daily fabric of life.
When I graduated, I found work in a non-governmental agency that was working for the rights of Congolese women and particularly for women who had suffered violence and had their consciences enslaved. As I travelled all around the country I was met with the misery of so many people, even though Congo is very rich in natural resources.

I watched as the climate of resignation grew. You’d hear people saying: “This country is already dead, there’s no point in trying to do anything . . .”
Around the beginning of 2012 something new happened within me. I knew that God can come and be among us and that all things are possible for Him. I realized that it was up to me to take the first step, to be willing to spend myself in a radical way to bring some change in my land.
Thus a protest movement was begun, comprised mostly of young people. The first public protest was held to denounce unemployment among young people. According to statistics, unemployment among young people in Congo is up to 96%. As Congo’s Independence Day drew near we anonymously printed flyers denouncing the crisis in justice, serious unemployment among the young and the paradox of the great natural resources of the country and the general poverty of most of the population.
On the evening of the vigil, as we were distributing the flyers, I was placed under arrest for a week along with two other young people. I was subjected to dozens of interrogations that were veritable psychological torture. I felt the threat of death or condemnation drawing nearer each day. I wondered why God had not intervened for those who were fighting on the side of justice. The thought of the dying Jesus came to my mind. He had also felt abandoned by the Father, and so I began to love again. I found something I could do during the days of my arrest. I could prepare some food for the other detainees and the guards.
In a show of solidarity and to obtain our release the young people organised a sit-in in front of the building; the mobilization was very large. Students decided not to return to university until we were freed. In the days that followed another two friends allowed themselves to be arrested.
We fight for a Congo of the people, who are able to demand justice but also fulfill their civic duties. A year of struggle has brought about some results. The movement now exists and is recognized  and in other places in the country; we have carried out more than 50 actions with concrete positive results; we are still alive in spite of the many waves of arrests, threats and attempts at exploitation; we are the first youth group i which while respecting the laws of the land, has managed to denounce, sustain, take a position on many even serious problems, including sanctions against the military who have been implicated in crimes and extortion. And now not just us taking a position. An ever larger generation of Congolese has taken up hope again and become involved for the good of the country.”

I share the Word of Life with many of the young people in this movement. The most important thing I’ve learned is that in order to bring about a true change, the strength comes from love. Acting with love, without violence, means acting on the side of God.” (M.M. – Congo)

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