In 2015-16 our International Peacemakers’ Fund granted an award to FEDA (Femmes et Education des Adultes) for a Peace Embassy Program. Their results, in the Kivu District of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have been remarkable. We’d like to continue supporting such peacemaking developments. Help us do this by giving now to double your donation: tinyurl.com/forbiggive. Throughout the week, we will be highlighting stories of different recipients of our grants, showing the impact that our work can have.
I am KASHINDI CHATUNGWA, aged 44 years. I live in Lulimba village. When the war of liberation [Kivu Conflict] arrived I enrolled myself as a combatant of a negative force called May-May. During the armed conflict I was renowned as a commando, identified as an extremist, murderer and violent person. All women were considered as mine when passing nearby our camp.
The story is sad, I sexually violated, tortured and committed cruel, inhuman and humiliating acts against women, men, and children.
Two years later I began to ask myself questions: Why are others are peaceably-minded? Why they are tolerant? What will be my future [given my harmful actions]? These questions changed my position and I decided to abandon the force. It was impossible to be integrated into my community because I feared reprisals and felt very ashamed. I chose to take refuge in Kazimia centre, a village very far from Lulimba, my village, so I could live in peace.
In August 2015, I heard that FEDA will be organising a training of peace. I realised it was an opportunity for me to repent and to learn how to live peaceably with my neighbours. I applied to be a participant and was accepted. Once trained, I chose to partake in FEDA’s Youth Peace-building Network and requested to go to Lulimba, my village, to explore reconciliation. Once there, I confessed my actions, sought forgiveness, and was able to establish peaceful cohabitation with my former neighbours [who I had harmed].
I then realised that my own journey to peace was not enough and have from May 2016 volunteered with FEDA. My experience has meant that I am a model of transformation from violence to peace and I’ve played a key role in the Peace Embassy Program. We move between villages establishing safe spaces in which survivors and perpetrators of violence in the war[s] can come together, witness each others’ stories, and pursue reconciliation and a shared future of peace.