Violence between Christians and Muslims has threatened genocide in the Central African Republic. We’re stopping the destruction in its tracks, working with courageous individuals like Antonio and Aïcha. Here are their stories:
“I lost my eldest son, who was only 27. He was killed under instruction from Christian youth in my neighborhood.” – Aïcha, Muslim
“The Muslim rebels committed grave abuses in my hometown. They killed my brothers in cold blood. I only survived because my wife allowed herself to be raped, in order to protect my life.” – Antonio, Christian
Aïcha began to plot her revenge.
“After hearing about my son’s death, I became mad and disturbed. I decided to avenge him by killing at least ten youths from the neighborhood.”
She organized meetings to plan the murders of the Christian youth she held responsible.
Antonio, too, sought vengeance.
“Having seen these atrocities, I decided to avenge the deaths of my brothers, going to any lengths necessary. So, I joined the guerilla war. We fought them on all sides. They were swept away with enormous losses among their men.”
Antonio became the violence he wanted to defend against.
Both sides’ atrocities and crimes led to a cycle of violence, sparking fears of genocide.
Our team responded quickly. We trained the militants and communities how to effectively and nonviolently protect their families. Aïcha and Antonio each attended our trainings.
“After my training in non-violence I saw that violence doesn’t resolve any problems. I decided to abandon my plans and, instead, to encourage others to follow my steps so that peace and social cohesion can return to our country.” – Aïcha
“After the discussions, I decided to take a solemn oath to commit myself to making peace and to being an activist for reconciliation in my community. My objective is to encourage and sensitize the people in general, so that together we can make peace.” – Antonio
Aïcha has become a fearless advocate for non-violence. Knowing that peace starts with the individual, Aïcha forgave and reconciled with her Christian neighbors. Today, she participates in community dialogues between Christians and Muslims.
Antonio began encouraging his fellow guerilla fighters to become champions of peace. His transformation was clear when he came upon an armed Muslim herder alone and hiding in the countryside. Instead of killing him, Antonio protected and sheltered him. He helped the herder reunite with his family. Antonio and his team of peace champions are currently protecting five Muslim families.
People can and will change for peace.
You too can stop the cycle of violence. Like Antonio and Aïcha, you can change the hearts and lives of others.
Learn more and take action today:
• Support people like Antonio and Aïcha. $40 provides 1 day of training for a local peacebuilder.
• Meet 3 CAR religious leaders working for peace at this year’s Common Ground Awards.
• Violence is a leading cause of death worldwide among young people, like Antonio, aged 15-29. Join the Search to End Violent Conflict and empower youth as peace leaders.
“We have to work with people who engage in these acts so that they can stop fighting each other. Violence only leads to more violence.” – Aïcha
Thank you for making your difference,
Thomas Paul Banze Bienfait Muhigirwa
Country Director Project Manager
Central African Republic Bossangoa Office