By Elias Hakizimana.
Regional peace advocates including Rwanda Government through National Commission of Unity and Reconciliation in partnership with Never Again Rwanda with Pole Institute from Goma celebrate the International Day of Peace, embarking on promotion of every one’s right to peace.
During the celebration of this day on September 26, 2018 in Rubavu District, officials urged youth to be the most players of peace building by avoiding stereotypes that can lure them into war and conflict situation.
The discussions that led this celebration gathered together youth from Goma town in DRC and those from Rubavu District.
The day is currently celebrated at regional level every year where various people from the Great Lakes Region meet and share peace building discussions.
The initiative is implemented by Never Again Rwanda with partner Non-Governmental Organizations from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi.
Speaking amid the discussions, Eric Mahoro, the head of programmes at Never Again Rwanda advised youth to avoid stereotypes that can hinder peace in the Great Lakes Region countries including Rwanda, DRC and Burundi.
“They should avoid being led by stereotypes that are based on what they heard from others who put their own benefits at the forefront. In our research, it was found that bad politicians in the region contributed to negative thinking among the citizens of these countries through kinds of stereotypes that are also destructive.So, we encourage youth to avoid such stereotypes and other violent activities to their colleagues,” Mahoro said.
The bilateral discussions on peace building embarked on the role of thorough thinking among the youth in promoting right to peace and their contribution in preventing any threat to peace in Great Lakes Region.
Various youth clubs were represented, including Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle and Umuseke from Rwanda; Club des Jeunes pour la Vie and Association des Scouts du Nord-Kivu.
Dieu sauve Maurice, one of the Rwandan youth working at Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle-centre culturelle Rubavu was among the participants. He said that youth must look at a good way and put positive thinking in the activities recommended by politicians as it happened that they are used in negative activities that destroy peace.
“Youth can be involved in destructive activities that also undermine peace most especially due to poverty. Today we are emphasizing on critical thinking to prepare the future of Rwandan youth that is built on peace,” Maurice said.
“We try to help youth both educated and illiterate ones to create jobs in order to preserve peace that is not only based on external security but also building their welfare,” he added.
Esperance Dako, 20, is another young female from Goma town in DRC. She said her contribution in preserving peace in Great Lakes Region will be to encourage other youth to not consider negative stereotypes that involve wars and conflicts.
“I have never seen such a scene but basing on friend’s experiences and testimonies, there are kinds of stereotypes that dominate our countries nowadays for example in DRC they say Rwandans are egoists, pessimists, fighters, enemies, etc and this is the same issue in Rwanda; and when a certain conflict escalate people say it was caused by one country or another, which can create conflicts between the two nations,” said Dako.
Dako said that such a judgement based on one’s appearance is caused by lack of positive thinking.
Special emphasis was given to the challenges facing youth from the region when it comes to decision making, employment as well as job creation.
Further discussions ahead the day reminded citizens who reside the borders to continue preserving social cohesion in line with promoting long-term peace in the region.
Onesphore Sematunda, head of research, regional progamme in peace conservation in Pole Institute in DRC mentioned that youth is a very important partner in everything as they use efforts in making changes. He pointed that the family should have a great contribution in peace development.
“Different environments influence positively or negatively youth peace behavior or non-behavior. These are like schools and Universities, media and social media, etc. The message we give to the entire community is to try to effectively put in place the culture of peace among the youth because they are enthusiast, vulnerable at a certain age, so, the family should be a good place to make the culture of peace, to speak it and practice it,” Sematunda reiterated.
Nyakare John Sezibera, the in charge of youth in Rubavu District advise the youth to use their time in benefit based activities rather than spending it in destroying peace.
“We encourage our youth to manage their time in peace building and income generating activities such as working in cooperatives. We request them to use their efforts in building their nation, they must think on benefits of what they are going to do before they do that, this will help them to win the lures,” he said.
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