MCC works in five countries surrounding Africa’s Great Lakes: the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Key project initiatives supported by MCC in the Great Lakes region include:
Program for Peace and Reconciliation (PPR): Following the 1994 Rwandan genocide, over two million refugees and combatants from Rwanda entered the eastern DRC. Many refugees have since returned to Rwanda—either by choice or by force—or were killed in the conflicts of the late 1990s in the DRC. MCC partner, the Church of Christ in Congo (or ECC, the Protestant ecumenical body to which Mennonite denominations in the DRC belong), estimates that there are still approximately 122,000 Rwandan refugees in Congo. PPR (a project of the ECC) provides repatriation services for refugees to successfully return to Rwanda. In 2014, PPR assisted 590 refugee families with repatriation services including medical care and food packages.
Great Lakes Initiative (GLI): A partnership among MCC, Duke University, World Vision, and Africa Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM), GLI has over the past ten years created a space for church and NGO leadership from the Great Lakes region of Africa to gather and discuss reconciliation in their communities. The program brings together participants from Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC to discern what God’s calling for peace and reconciliation means for their communities.
Children’s Peace Libraries: MCC supports the efforts of the Transformation Learning Center (TLC), an initiative of the Evangelical Friends Church of Rwanda, to operate children’s libraries in five locations across the country, with four located in rural areas. The libraries receive over 7,500 visits each month from local school children eager to read and learn. TLC also uses the Peace Libraries to offer regular peer mediation training workshops where children learn important skills in addressing conflict through dialogue and peer support. Local schools have embraced these trainings by assigning classroom mediators who work with fellow students to resolve conflicts in the school yard and classroom.
Emergency Food Assistance and Shelter Support: With support from funding from MCC’s account at Canadian Foodgrains Bank, the ECC has begun a food security project which rents land for 514 displaced households in the North Kivu communities of Shasha and Mubimbi in eastern Congo. Households receive tools and seeds, as well as food assistance, to improve their food security and self-sufficiency. MCC and the ECC also provide yearly shelter assistance to the communities by distributing tarps to reinforce thatched roofs during the rainy season.
For more, check out the Summer issue of Intersections on Conflict, Reconciliation and Partnership in Africa’s Great Lakes Region.