"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


grassroots action in the DRC

A DailyKos writer covers grassroots action to combat gender-based violence in the eastern Congo:
Mama Muliri responded to the threats by going to Lubutu herself and facing the tribal leaders eye to eye. As promised, they met her brandishing machetes and guns. They chanted threats, and they threw rocks at her. Still, she stood her ground, told them about the new constitution passed in 2006, and how the law now differed from the tribal customs. She demanded that they comply with the law, and asked them to attend a HEAL Africa conference on conflict transformation.

...Mama Muliri's act of defiance marked the beginning of a rich collaboration between HEAL Africa and the tribal leaders. They are now working together to create a new future for the Congo.

HEAL Africa and the ABA conducted three days of meetings where the tribal leaders were able to learn about the new DRC constitution and how traditional practices conflicted with the law. They worked together to address the conflicts near their villages, and worked on strategy to transform the regional conflict and protect their villages. The chiefs took to this process like fish to water, and saw what they'd learned as a better way for their communities. The chiefs collectively chose to enforce the new law, and they had a march through the city to proclaim it so.
I've met Mama Muliri; she is one of thousands of Congolese who work to find culturally-relevant, simple, inexpensive ways to combat the country's most pressing problems. To say that she is fearless would be an understatement. The international media rarely focuses on success stories like hers, but I'm convinced that it's this type of community-based action that will ultimately bring change to the region.

The program in which Mama Muliri works has helped more than 30,000 women and girls get appropriate medical and psycho-social assistance after they were victimized, giving them the tools to rebuild their lives. As a result of underfunding of UNICEF by UN member states, HEAL Africa has suffered severe funding cuts this year. You can donate to support Mama Muliri's work here; I don't know a better way to directly support community-based efforts to help rape survivors in the eastern DRC.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funding cuts for Heal are also a result of poor performance in the field. I know many organizations that have problems working in areas where Heal is active due to policies such as payment of incentives per GBV case received.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010 1:19:00 AM

Anonymous Ruairi said...

Great post and I strongly agree that the brave, skilled work of local peacebuilders must be recognised and supported. For Insight on Conflict, we recently organised an event in Goma that brought together twenty different organisations from 4 different provinces. A representative of HEAL Africa attended, though in fact most organisations were smaller-scale. The dedication and bravery of the peacebuilders was remarkable, and as Texas in Africa says, these sorts of community-based programmes will be vital to resolving the problems in east DRC.

To watch a short video on the 'Peace Exchange', visit: http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/dr-congo/stories/goma-peace-exchange/ . On the site, you'll also be able to find out more information on these and other peacebuilding organisations in DRC and elsewhere.

We've tried also to put on the site some stories of success - the peacebuilders themselves are well aware that international news on DRC is dominated by horror stories of the violence, but it is important for people to see how Congolese themselves are mobilizing for peace.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010 4:44:00 AM


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