My name is Shomari Ferdinand. I am 20 years old and am presently studying Agribusiness at Amitie secondary School in the Nyarugusu refugee camp. To be honest, my past is contains a very tragic story. I was born in 1998 at KARAMBA village in DRC, a few years before rebel groups attacked my native village and committed very fierce crimes. Despite my young age, I witnessed a lot of inhuman deeds. During that civil war, those rebel groups killed lot of innocent fellow citizens. They raped mothers as well as little sisters; they captured boys intending to compel them to join their teams. My parents, after being rescued several times, decided to take my two siblings as well as me and flee.
On the way, we met with several war-orphaned children who fled alongside us. We had a tragic long journey. We spent days and nights walking and sometimes we barely ate. We climbed mountains and crossed streams. Then, finally we reached the village called Yungu where Good Samaritans provided us with a boat by which we crossed the lake Tanganyika so we could stay in Tanzania for the rescue of our lives. My presence in Nyarugusu refugee camp here in Tanzania is something much appreciated for me because it saved my life and I am safe here in the camp.
However, my heart is never peaceful when I hear of and see mothers, young girls, young boys, and most importantly children coming from the DRC and Burundi experiencing the same situation as or even more than I did. So it has been a big dream of mine to come out of these vulnerable groups of people into the wide world to try to make the world a better place. But I didn’t know how to start. For this reason, I am very thankful to RYENET for the opportunity it gives me to share ideas and opinions with others to help us understand how to practice the theory of peace effectively in our daily life. I believe that by working together we can change the world and make it a better place.
My name is Lwendo. I was born at Makobola village, Fizi territory in south Kivu province, in Democratic Republic of the Congo. My mother’s name is Zamda. She currently lives in Nyarugsu refugee camp in Tanzania with her husband Chishibanji and us, her kids, who now number five. I am 23 years old holding a certificate in informatics awarded to me at Amani secondary school in the camp.
My tragic journey begins in 1999 in our village Makobola where I first attended my primary school. In our school, during break time, we used to play with fellow students in schoolyard. One Saturday morning while I was doing a play on the school grounds, I saw tons of people running away and crying in despair. I saw the entire sky filled with black dusts with sparks of fire caused by gunshots. Armed groups invaded our small village early Saturday morning to cruelly shoot on a number of people with zero tolerance. Every one of you, I trust, should know that women and children were the most affected population during that situation. Of course, women and children were the ones treated like cripples, like nothing.
During the invasion, it was dangerous for villagers who had tried to leave their houses to escape that morning because the rebels had already have encircled our entire village. They meant to carry out a mass killing. I remember when I watched our own houses burn, girls and women raped, and others killed; there was no exception of boys who were abducted and forced to be child soldiers. The report by the Congolese government testifies that "a considerable of people, including women, men, children, and old people have lost their lives in one day, something which ranked Makobola village as one of the first war affected area in Fizi territory” followed by the village of Kazumba where such a mass killing occurred again.
It would be a long story to tell you all about when, in the middle of the night, my father knocked at the school door where I was and saved me. I am lucky that we successfully climbed a high fence on the school border with my parents before we joined our family members. After judging the situation, my parents decided to flee with me in Tanzania. We then travelled through a small boat crossing the Lake Tanganyika till we reached the Kigoma province in Tanzania. Therefore afterwards, we have been hosted in the largest, overcrowded area known as Nyarugusu refugee camp where we are currently.
My name is Safari Rutebeza Antoine. I am a 23 young boy currently studying Biochemistry at one of the secondary schools called College de la Charite. It’s a long story how I found myself confined in Nyarugusu refugee camp.
The civil war in Democratic Republic of the Congo compelled my parents to take me and flee to neighboring Tanzania with my young brother in early 2004. My story begins in the Uvira territory. Facing the invasion by rebel groups in this territory, my parents felt we were in danger of losing our lives.
I was at a very young age when we travelled on foot with a group of boys and girls orphaned by the civil war. One of many such boys I can remember is Baruani Eustache Ndume who later became the winner of ‘an International Peace Prize’. Here is the award link: www.kidsRights.org/baruani-ndume.
It took us three weeks to climb the tall rock mountains. Sometimes we climbed at night, with nothing to eat and obliged to sleep in very bad conditions. During displacement, many boys were lost, many fell sick, and many others died before we reached the peninsula of Ubwari. It was very scary! With this situation in view, my parents took a small boat and we crossed the Lake Tanganyika, before we arrived in Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania.
My family was excited for having saved my life. Living in the camp was of course at the time wonderful and horrible. This is because I found myself in a safe place where I could live with other children, but I couldn’t forget my tragic journey and had to think on it every time so I always felt upset and hopeless.
It was exactly during this period of many thoughts that Baruani told me about his SISI KWA SISI (Children for Children) program and later, RYENET. The process of adapting to RYENET was not an entirely smooth one. While my friend was by now something of a professional at adaptation, it was still a real challenge for me. One such challenge was fitting in on the RYENET team. But the encouragement techniques used by the RYENET became a source of much inspiration for me.
Thanks to RYENET, now I feel I am able to share with experts around the world new perspectives, opinions, and visions of what I believe is right for how to deal with and address the refugee challenges. I feel that I am able to discuss with peace lovers about how to put the idea of peace into practice while interacting with fellow youths in different countries who have the same enthusiasm in peace. It is my hope that through idea sharing, we will be able to implement plans focused on fostering peace in our community. Making our voices heard is just the first step for peace to happen.
My name is Patience Wa Kilongo. I am a 17 year old young boy from a Congolese family. My parents were dwelling in the town of Kalemie before coming to Tanzania. Kalemie is located in the province of Tanganyika, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I was born in a village called Sunuka which is located in the province of Kigoma here in Tanzania. I lived there before entering the Nyarugusu camp where I am currently living as a refugee. My parents passed away several years after our arrival in the camp. It takes courage to be orphan!
I have been cared for by a foster parent with four children of her own and who had to struggle to care for the education and health of all of us. My childhood was of course filled with sadness. It was a very hard life. I can’t imagine it now but it was a very tough life to the extent I started to hate myself and felt very sorry for myself.
One day, Mr. Elias Msoshi, founder of the RYENET, came by our home for mobilization. Elias began by telling me what it is like to live in a refugee camp, and the responsibilities we have as youth to find opportunities to shape our own future and that of our community. However, having grown up in such a scary environment, with all my miseries, it took a while for me to understand and get involved.
After several visits and discussions, I got inspired, informed, and connected on local issues. Beyond that, discussions helped me dig into the details so that I could understand the importance of youth in the plan for development. Now I can’t get myself off the hook – I want to play my part.
I am a well-loved and respected student at our school where I am pursuing my diploma in social work. As the living testimony of a extremely harsh life, I focus on devoting my time to mobilizing my community to help orphans become the responsible adults they have the right to become. I will keep doing my best to ensure this vision becomes a reality.
I expect to bridge differences in terms of culture, understanding, and knowledge in order to foster sustainable love and compassion. I want to gain knowledge as well as learn more about teamwork and other new things. I also want to be a responsible citizen of the world.
Most importantly, I hope that knowledge sharing between you and I will clarify what action needs to be taken to combat injustice and restore peace in my community.
I’m so grateful for being given this opportunity to tell a short story about my life.
My name is Imani Sadiki, I am a young boy aged 21, born at Baraka, Fizi in DRC. I am the 7th in a family of 9 children. I was born during the war which started in 1996. Since then, I have been living as a refugee in Nyarugusu camp, in Tanzania.
Due to civil wars and conflicts which broke out in our country under the influence of rebel groups in the Eastern part, my parents took the decision to flee to Tanzania in 2015 to save my lives.
During conflict, as youth we have witnessed a bunch of challenges. Young boys were killed for no reason. We were abducted and forced to be child-soldiers. Our native villages burnt and many others were left with serious physical disabilities. Girls, on the other hand, were killed, kidnapped, raped and physically assaulted, rending them victims of HIV, trauma, and other vulnerabilities. The worst of all for me is that we have been confined to a refugee camp (once the largest in the world) called Nyarugusu with no exposure to outside world. The memories are enduring indeed! Despite all the challenges faced, but I did not stifle myself because I knew who I am and what I wanted to be in the future. So I pushed myself into my studies even if it was somehow challenging and enjoyed them even though some people discouraged me. Now I am in form three at Lycee Secondary School and doing very well. At school, I like English, French, History and Geography with a focus in Civic. My intention is to become a globally recognized change-maker dedicated to tackling the human right abuses we are facing while rebuilding hope for lives of my fellow refugees who must fend for themselves due to generalized poverty, exploitation, and lack of peace. I have a strong expectation on the RYENET network in which I am an active member in and believe that it can make my dream comes true. It is my hope that young activists like me from all across the world will be able to join hand with the RYENET to help remove these kinds of inequalities and injustices young refugees are facing. I believe together we can change the world. Yes, we can make peace a reality!