Charles Kwuelum Archive

The urgency before us: A call for collaborative effort towards DR Congo

August 16, 2019 Charles Kwuelum

Charline Kavugho shared the news that she and her two-year-old son, Jonathan, had been declared free of the Ebola virus, 17 days after her husband Gerome Kanyitondi died of an Ebola infection. Kanyitondi had been a pastor for the Community of Baptist Churches in Central Africa (CBCA). Kavugho was sharing her testimony with the Church of Christ of Congo’s Ministry of Refugees and Emergencies (ECC MERU), a partner organization of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). She had been willing to undergo an infection prevention and control process, at a time when many in the community are distrustful of health care personnel. […]

Rebuilding lives is foremost

May 17, 2019 Charles Kwuelum

In April Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), visited the United States. Controversy and protests around his victory in the long-delayed presidential election linger on, even as the transition and transfer of power has been described as the most peaceful since DR Congo’s independence. In Washington Tshisekedi met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss U.S.-DR Congo relations, including Tshisekedi’s “change agenda,” which includes attracting U.S. investments to the country. In light of the humanitarian crisis facing DR Congo, the meeting raises questions about the politicians’ priorities. As of December 2018, there were about […]

Reducing electoral violence

March 8, 2019 Charles Kwuelum

Countries invest a lot of resources in national elections but sometimes the process is accompanied by violence, leading to the destruction of lives, property and livelihoods and perpetuating cycles of trauma. Nigeria’s recently concluded presidential elections were regarded as relatively peaceful, but incidents of localized violence and electoral misconduct affected the credibility of the elections. More than one million people were unable to cast their votes due to violence around polling centers and millions more were disenfranchised for other reasons. After the results were announced, celebrations sparked violence in some parts of the country. Violence around elections in countries such […]

DR Congo’s uphill battle for peace

December 6, 2018 Charles Kwuelum

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is at a critical historical moment. That was the conclusion during a recent workshop held by Church of Christ in Congo (known by its French acronym, ECC), which focused on creating teams to prevent electoral violence. Long-expected parliamentary elections, a chance for the first peaceful transfer of power since independence, will be held on December 23. After the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila in 2001, Joseph Kabila became president and has remained in office beyond the country’s two term limit. After much local and international pressure, he has agreed to not run again. […]

Reinvigorating trust in the midst of displacement

November 16, 2018 Charles Kwuelum

As the dry season set in, Modibo Ado* migrated from his home in Bauchi State, Nigeria, leading his herds of cows and sheep to neighboring Plateau State. There the grass is still green, and water is available for his livestock. In Plateau State, farmers like Emmanuel Davou* tend their crops and wait to harvest them for food and income. For migratory herdsmen like Ado, growing his herds necessitate a search for vegetation and water. Encroachment into grazing routes for farmers like Davou often become a cause for conflict and violence. Such encounters break down relationships and trust among farming and […]

Counting down in faith

July 20, 2018 Charles Kwuelum

By Charles Kwuelum On June 30, the Democratic Republic of the Congo celebrated its 58th anniversary of independence. Instead of celebrating landmark democratic achievements as a nation, the country faces the unpleasant challenge of multi-layered conflicts including political and ethnic violence. Militarized responses from DR Congo’s armed forces and rebel groups continue to shake its stability. In December 2016, President Joseph Kabila’s second and last term ended according to Congolese constitution. Elections have been delayed and the president has since remained in office. This has led to countrywide protests from citizens to demand elections. The peaceful protests were met with […]

Nigeria: Rebuilding lives

May 4, 2018 Charles Kwuelum

By Charles Kwuelum Displaced from her home by Boko Haram attacks at Madagali, Nigeria and the Nigerian military’s response, Christy and her family fled to the area of Girei in Adamawa State. As the family of seven tried to escape the violence, Christy was abducted and forced into marriage with a Boko Haram member. She was lucky to escape in 2015. While sharing the story with a care giver and faced with trauma and almost in tears, she said, “I was 24 in 2014 when it happened, but thank God that I am able to partake in an opportunity for […]

“I will not forget you”

November 16, 2017 Charles Kwuelum

“I will not forget you” By Charles Kwuelum Amidst all of the headlines these days, little attention is being paid to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). In August 2016, violence broke out in the Kasai region when the Kamuina Nsapu, a local militia group, engaged in a clash with national security forces. The clash was partly due to the local appointment of a traditional chief, seen by many as a way to influence land rights and traditional values. The Kasai region is the birthplace of the Mennonite Church in DR Congo. The violence displaced […]

Pursuing what makes for peace in Nigeria

September 8, 2017 Charles Kwuelum

Pursuing what makes for peace in Nigeria By Charles Kwuelum According to the Global Peace Index (2014), 500 million people live in countries at risk of instability and conflict, and 200 million of them live below the poverty level. One of those countries, Nigeria, is facing the catastrophic consequences of both violent extremism and militarized responses to “counter violent extremism.” This has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, human rights abuses, and as many as 100,000 deaths. In northeast Nigeria, 1.7 million people have been displaced from their homes, and 8.1 million people are in dire need of humanitarian and emergency food […]

Doing more than just assisting

June 2, 2017 Charles Kwuelum

Doing more than just assisting By Charles Kwuelum Martina Talatu Garba was looking forward to becoming a mother, in a culture that highly values having children. Unfortunately, her hopes were dashed when she died at childbirth due to complications from malaria and a lack of adequate medical care. Since Refawa, her hometown in Nigeria, lacks a primary healthcare facility and is 15 miles away from the nearest public hospital, many women, newborn babies and children do not have access to skilled care and life-saving medicines. About 303,000 women worldwide die annually during childbirth, as a result of health conditions that […]