Boy. Soldier. Student. Leader-- Peacemaker.

10/27/2014 10:34:00 AM sendtheroths 1 Comments

**Note: names have been changed in this post in order to protect the safety and identity of minors.

“I woke up in the bush and felt like I had no hope or future,” said Julius. “I prayed to God and said either just let me die in the bush or let me escape.”

Julius wasn’t to die in the bush, in fact a small group of him and his friends escaped from the rebel militia and after traveling over 50 kilometers on foot they finally arrived back in his village just near Masisi Centre.

Julius taking notes studiously as The Congo Tree
facilitators teach about social action.
“When I arrived back my mother didn’t know what to do. She was so happy to see me and I was so happy to see her. But unfortunately my father died in the war.”

Though happy to be back, Julius found himself unable to handle life back at home. Yes his mother was happy he had returned but didn’t know what to do with him.

“I used to behave very badly, trying to steal and I was very angry.”

Peacemakers brain storming on how to be a positive
influence within their communities.
He entered into a program run by the Catholic development arm that takes the children from the mentality they had in the village and brings them through counseling and exercises to allow them the ability to transition back into life outside of the militia.

“CTO helped me a lot but I still found myself wondering-- what kind of future could I possibly have? I didn’t have school fees or anything to do. Thanks to GOF-C, I am able to go to school. The teachings I get through GOF-C have helped me a lot.”

To help build upon the foundation we’ve already laid, every so often GOF-C has the ability to partner with other likeminded organizations. Recently we held a three-day Young Leaders Training (YLT) seminar with our friends Amy and Heidi from The Congo Tree, a UK based charity.

The Congo Tree seeks to inspire young leaders to change society using alternative and creative ways to build peace, lead with integrity, serve others and innovate in enterprise. The seminar was held in a retreat type atmosphere, away from the busyness of everyday life to focus on the concepts of leadership, teamwork, problem solving, communication and social action planning. 

Julius is very creative but tends to blend in as just another member of the crowd.

In one exercise, he seemed pensive and disinterested for half of the time until he saw the others having problems.

"Give me the rope, if we do it this way, we will succeed no problem, I'll show you." The others caught on and it was Julius in the lead.

In the post activity debrief the facilitators asked for someone to give positive feedback to another.
Toxic waste: remove a bucket from the middle of a circle,
you can't touch the bucket nor enter into the circle.

One peacemaker immediately took the floor.

"At first Julius didn't say anything and wasn't involved…" At this point I was thinking wait isn't this time for positive feedback? But the peacemaker continued, "But then he brought an important idea and it was his idea that helped us succeed."

The smile on Julius' face was ear to ear.

"Do you see the power of positive encouragement?" Amy inquired of the group.

"I feel encouraged and confident," said Julius and the other peacemaker commented how he felt good to make someone else feel good.

Social Action

To put leadership principles together with practical community implementation, in the YLT there is a social action plan project in which the Peacemakers were to split into three groups to develop a plan. The groups were to compete for $50 and the group with the best plan presentation would be awarded the amount. The young leaders came up with some really creative ideas that could make a high impact within the community.

A group of peacemakers working through a problem
solving challenge, the catch: no talking!
Julius was in a group that came up with a dynamic, high yield project. Julius, the main presenter for the group, said they planned to buy a pig and from the offspring they could turn their $50 into $300. This would then help to pay for school fees of other orphans like Julius.

“All of us used to be child soldiers and many people in the community don't think we can do anything. But with this project, it is an opportunity to show them that we can do something positive. We called our group Peace for a reason. We have hope that we will bring peace to our communities through showing that we can do something positive.”

Julius is just one Peacemaker who first hand felt the positive effects of hope. Let us pray that he and the others will continue to apply what they've learned when the going gets difficult and tough.

Romans 5:3-5 - “3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

GOF-C Peacemakers and The Congo Tree team together after
 receiving their certificates of completion. 

1 comment :

  1. Wow. I hope that those young people will take time to practice the le├žns that they received there. It's a great stimulation of creativity and action. Peace for a reason!!