by John Lindner
Father Joseph Mawa gives us a good definition of peacebuilding.
“A lot of people say peace is a ceasefire,” he said one afternoon under a shady tree outside St. Patrick’s Church in Nimule, Sudan.
Nimule (nim-U-lay) is just across the White Nile from Uganda. Many of the Sudanese now living in Nimule have returned in the past few years from long exile on the other side of the river.
“Peace is more than a ceasefire,” Father Joseph said. “It is freedom from fear, freedom from anxiety.”
It’s being able to concentrate on homework, work fields, run businesses, keep house, and hang out with friends and neighbors. It’s not worrying about when the next surprise attack might occur, not fearing or expecting sudden loss of home, land or life.
Father Joseph is a peacebuilder and pastor of St. Patrick’s. His church is the locus of peacebuilding in and around Nimule. A few examples:
– St. Patrick’s school brings together children of different tribal and ethnic backgrounds.
– That in turn brings together adults from different backgrounds and gives them common cause- their children’s education.
– Microfinance groups foster trust while they increase financial security.
– Provides a community center for sports, meetings, civic planning, and information gathering.
– Trusted institutional mediator.
– Hosts inter-tribal conferences to resolve conflicts.
In one such conference, 250 people gathered to hash over extremely contentious land rights issues. When they left, their issues were settled to all groups’ satisfaction. Father Mawa attributes that success to Sudanese openness to peaceful relations with their neighbors and the trust they put in the Church as a non-partisan meeting center.
The Father Mawas of southern Sudan are working with CRS to remove the fears and anxieties that give rise to conflicts.
Leave a Comment
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.