By Charles Kwuelum
The Great Lakes region of central Africa—the countries grouped around Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika—showcases both the very best and the very worst of humanity. The region has seen its fair share of war and conflict: the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a twenty-year ongoing conflict and war in eastern Congo, and a prolonged civil war in Burundi (a country where, just weeks ago, political tensions broke out again after ten years of peace) have all left their marks on the bodies and psyches of the peoples in the region.
At the same time, the Great Lakes region is home to a vast and ever-growing community of peace-builders, researchers, teachers, civil society actors and citizen activists who strive to re-establish and maintain peace. The past and current conflicts of the region are nothing if not interconnected, both to each other and to the wider world. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda emerged from the same ethnic tensions (created and fostered by the colonial powers) that fueled the Burundian civil war. The conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi caused the displacement of refugees (and rebel groups) into the Congo. International organizations and actors are omnipresent (although not with uniformly positive results).
Patrick Maxwell is MCC’s Eastern Congo Peace-building Coordinator, where he works tirelessly to further peace and stability in the region. He explains his work in detail here: http://mcc.org/sites/mcc.org/files/media/common/documents/intersectionssummer15press.pdf