Since inter-tribal conflicts that destroyed so many villages in Bijombo, Eben-Ezer University has joined local initiatives in search of peace. Its leadership has been involved in organizing meetings and visits to different localities. In July 20-22, 2018, it worked with local churches of Mutarule1 and 2 for a 3-day church meeting whereby, community and church leaders, youth and adults all accepted to work together for their own peaceful cohabitation. About 940 people attended. This work continues and plans to expand to other localities in the Plain of Ruzizi and beyond.
On July 27-30/2018, Eben-Ezer jointly worked with the association of widows and orphans (AVOC) in Minembwe a conference for peace, whereby support for orphans ‘education is raised and humanitarian aid (clothes and food) were collected in support of displaced people of Bijombo. All evening meetings were held at the conference hall of Eben-Ezer University and during the day, meetings were held outside due to big number of people attended over 2000.
Annual conference of Eben-Ezer family on peace and spiritual edification was organized at Kiziba Methodist church whereby different local churches participated from 14 to 16 September 2018. It was also 21st commemoration of the tragic plane crash in Minembwe which killed all passengers who were coming to attend peace conference in Minembwe.
On 18 September, the leaders and staff of Eben-Ezer University joined other local leaders and population of Minembwe to welcome the Governor of South-Kivu and his delegation including the Speaker of Provincial Assembly, the Provincial Army Commander, the Provincial Police Commander, Provincial Ministers of Planning and Finance among other; and the Deputy Special Representative of Secretary General of UN (MONUSCO) and his delegation including a French diplomat based in Goma. Their visit had multiple purpose: inauguration of lights in the local market, to learn from local population about its resilience and efforts of peace and security in the area. During the meeting with civil society, many problems were presented including, multiplication of attacks from Maimai and other armed groups in the region, security and humanitarian situation of Bijombo; lack of road; local administration; transport facility of medical items and water equipment transportation; creation of jobs for youth and women’s rights.
From 18 to 19 September 2018, a meeting was organized at Eben-Ezer University by local administration of Minembwe, local chiefs and leaders of different ONGs. More than 100 delegates of men, women and youth represented Minembwe, Lulenge, Itombwe, Kamombo, Milimba locations. Two main points were discussed for 2 days: What should be the role of each community and leader to bring and maintain peace in their region and how can people of Bijombo be assisted? A joint declaration was signed and people of Minembwe resolved to work for their own peace, security and development in all ways possible. The decided not to wait for others to decide for them, but to come and support them.
The university welcome American families of 7 people who came to stay and support various educative activities at university and Complexe Scolaire d’Application (primary and secondary schools). University is organizing various trainings for local people including midwifery course which will be held at the university conference hall from October 5 to 11 in conjunction with General Hospital of Minembwe and local dispensaries. More than 50 participants are expected to attend. Trainers are from USA and Canada. MONUSCO has been very supportive in transpiration and security services. We also thank our government for its support in visas’ issuance for our guests.
The primary and secondary schools are opened from September 5 and registered more than 80 orphans, displaced children from different tribes with no means to pay their school fees. This is a challenge for the leadership of the school and a message requesting support is out for all those who can help in school fees and materials. We also come short of classrooms. Both primary and secondary schools use universities premises in the morning, but once the university opens, some of classes are taken in the morning which will be a real challenge for us. We urgently needed extra 4 classrooms in order to have all students in classes with no problem for this academic year 2018-2019.
Cooperatives in agriculture are being reinforced in legumes and honey projects. Members of different tribes from Kahwela to Rugezi are working together to produce honey and make it a commercial activity. University staff and the Centre of Research and Community Development are currently giving training and supplying seeds and materials for construction of hives. After training certificates are given to those who fully completed the course. Finally, the university is in the process of providing clean water in taps to villages of Kiziba, the market to the university campus. All these are part of peacebuilding and sustainable development programs that accompany formal education.
Eben-Ezer University would like to thank all its local and international partners who have tirelessly been behind every work that is being done.