A Peacebuilder in Congo Inspires Us At Home

daniel lorunguiya in congoAs many of us focus on New Year’s resolutions, packing up holiday decorations and starting back to work, an e-mail arrived from a young Kenyan priest who works in Congo.

“I have been deep in the forest doing Christmas services in a dangerous place where there are Ugandan LRA rebels. Thank God I am safe, but Congo is not politically stable after the elections. I live with a Congolese priest in a simple mission surrounded by over 35,000 people. All come to us to present their spiritual and material problems. We are not always able to assist them all. We have a small dispensary but there are many more diseases than the medicines we have—typhoid, malaria, TB, diarrhea, dysentery, just to mention a few. We buy medicine from Uganda, which is far and the transport is costly. Still, it is better to buy in Uganda, which is about 1,500 km away than to buy in the capital city, which is 2,500 km away from us. We have constructed a few wells in order to reduce the water problems and have been teaching the people to boil water.  Many children don’t go to school due to poverty. Last year we managed to support 10 of them and they did well in the school…”—Daniel Lorunguiya

As I read Daniel’s words, it is easy to recognize his peacebuilding efforts. However, the lesson isn’t that we need to be in exotic places to be peacebuilders, but that we need to be peacebuilders wherever we happen to be. If Daniel can accomplish so much in such a hostile environment, what stops us in our relatively comfortable lives from treating those near to us as we would like to be treated ourselves—with acceptance, kindness, compassion, and with offers of assistance when needed. With the new year comes renewed inspiration—a deeper awareness of our role as peacebuilders and the challenge of committing to new courses of action.

by William Repicci

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