community-based approach, reconnection, REFUNITE, FTR
Our REFUNITE team talks to hundreds of leaders every day, on a week basis. Usually, we connect through phone calls, but earlier this year one of our call center agents, El Fuego Mutaz, got the exceptional opportunity to meet up in Gisenyi, Rwanda, with four of our active leaders from the North Kivu Region in DRC:
- Madame Nathalie Badesirhe, a humanitarian agent from Goma,
- Maître Bashwira Murhula Zachary, a lawyer from Goma Law Court, and senior member of the national Civil Society,
- Mr Guillaume Mastaki, the Academic Secretary at Université de Rutshuru, and Member of a development NGO in Rutshuru,
- Mr Leon Simwerayi, President of “La Brigade Verte” a green environment structure from Goma.
During the meeting, El Fuego and the leaders discussed the REFUNITE’s mission and its family tracing techniques, which has equipped them with the necessary know-how to successfully search for missing persons, as well as to raise awareness on REFUNITE among their community members.
May I hug you, Mr El Fuego?“, asks Madame Nathalie Badesirhe, when she arrived at the meeting room. “Up to date, the scars of war are still visible in Goma: destroyed buildings, abandoned houses, etc. This we can rebuild, but the worst scars are invisible to the naked eye. Within the people, there is the heavy pain of missing families. And unfortunately, this is more complicated to fix than a destroyed building. REFUNITE is simply an answer to a thousands prayers”, she adds, referring to the invasion of Goma by the rebellion group known as M23, in November 2012.
“It’s known that Nande, Shi, Hutu and Hunde communities don’t go along with each other. However, the leaders from these different tribes accepted to receive the lists of all missing persons, despite their ethnicity, for the sake of reuniting families”, explains El Fuego. “It’s an unusual and positive outcome, that I’m proud to attribute to the inspiring story of how REFUNITE was created”, he adds.
At the end of the meeting, Maître Bashwira Murhula Zachary realized that Guillaume Mastaki was his cousin, who went missing 24 years. They used to live together when young boys, until the day one of the families was forced from Goma to Rutshuru. “The reconnection between the two leaders has closed our meeting in a beautiful fashion”, remembers El Fuego.