murhabazi namegabeAward for the Civil Society – 2012

Democratic republic of Congo (DRC)

Preventing child abuses in armed conflicts

Tags: justice, child abuse, sexual violence, education, identity, civil war, conflicts.

Murhabazi Namegabe: a carrier of peace. Murhabazi Namegabe is married and has one child. He is the third born in a family of 14 children. He would have become an Assistant at the University because he likes writing but he decided to contribute tothe wellbeing of children in his country the DRC. In the Kiswahili language his name would have meant the savior: one who saves children from abuse.

Problem: In the Eastern part of the DRC the war is the master of everything. This part of the World is the area where armed groups kidnap children and make them combatants. Hardship and violence is part of their daily living. Through sexual violence girls are terribly affected by these wars; they have no access to education, they are uprooted and they have lost all type of moral reference.

Action: For 18 years already Murhabazi Namegabe does tirelessly meet armed groups aiming to get children released from the daily violence. He offers them a new life through social integration and a chance for education. With his BVES (Bureau pour le Volontariat au service de l’Enfance et de la Santé), Murhabazi goes through daily pressure and threat for death : rebel groups fear a betrayal action from him; they kidnap him for long periods, sometimes for weeks or more. Fortunately, Murhabazi does always come back with four, ten, twenty or more children that he frees and introduces to the normal life with education, a chance to learn a job, and especially a chance to find back the affection of growing with the family. From 1994, Murhabazi has freed more than 50.000 boys and girls. These are in the 35 houses and schools of Murhabazi’s Association. When children are released, starts another task for the Association to look for their parents.

Harubuntu Dimension: Murhabazi is a man of peace. He acts smoothly, his steps for meeting rebels are based on a communitarian approach; there is always someone in the village who knows the big bosses of the rebel groups. He makes sure that his meetings are for good ending. He never says things on the back of combatants to ensure that children who are kidnapped are kept alive and have a chance that, one day, he could make them free. He describes a World where children have the right to go to school, a World where children can enjoy their rights. He explains the rebels that children are the future of families, communities, the society and the country; some of them becoming armed groups too when they are grown up. Dialogue and physical contact are his approach for real peace. And beyond the local action, Murhabazi reconciles children from different tribes, different armed groups and different nationalities: children from different countries like Burundi and or Rwanda integrate the same transit centre where Hutu and Tutsi from the two countries received.


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