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HEAL Africa provides holistic care for the people of Democratic Republic of Congo
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HEAL Africa: Health and Healing for Congo

August 2011

Healing in the Congo

There are many who look at the problems of Congo as beyond repair – how do you “fix” a country that’s been devastated by years of ongoing conflict? How do you mend broken relationships? How do you rebuild where everything was destroyed? How do you re-start life where so many lives have been lost?

In 2008, a devastating massacre took place in the town of Kiwanja, a few hours North of Goma . Over 150 people were killed, many of them young men. Thousands of people fled their homes and were forced to live in Internally Displaced People’s camps (IDP camps). 

As fighting has calmed in the areas in and around Kiwanja, , refugees have begun the difficult process of returning home, resettling and re-building their lives. A lot has changed in the years since they left. In some places land boundaries are no longer clear, in others, someone else is farming the field of a returning refugee. Many will return to find their homes destroyed. This is where the unprecedented work of HEAL Africa’s Nehemiah Committees comes in.  

The Kiwanja Nehemiah Committee formed as displaced people were beginning to return home – most of the committee members were themselves displaced and beginning the process of returning and resettling. In the 140 committees that exist in the areas HEAL Africa works, all are comprised of tribal and religious leaders, 40% of the members are women, and most have a male and female youth representative in order to begin training the next generation of leaders.

The Kiwanja Nehemiah Committee began to assist returning members of the community by helping them settle land ownership disputes, boundary disputes, conflicts between neighbors, and a host of other problems that come with a large group of people resettling at once. The committees are trusted because every tribe and religion is represented. Unlike the local police or government, which are likely to be biased or want a bribe, the Nehemiah Committees fairly listen to disputes, and use their training in conflict resolution to help all parties reach an agreement. There is no way to measure the violence this has prevented, the lives their work has improved or the stability it provides to a fragile community. They go about their work not for credit or glory, but because they are members of the same community, with a deep desire to see a lasting peace in the areas they live, work and raise their children.

To those of you who continue to support the work of HEAL Africa and groups like the Nehemiah Committees, we extend our deepest thanks. If you are not already, would you consider becoming a recurring donor? A one time or monthly gift – large or small – helps keep steady support going to critical programs like these.


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