Twenty years of partnership: Héritiers de la Justice #KAIROS20
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Photo: A survivor of sexual violence testifies of her ordeal to Ian and Kirsten in the presence of Néné Lubala in Bideka in 2016.
Twenty years of partnership dedicated to restoring the dignity and rights of vulnerable populations in conflict affected areas of the world
This year 2021, the NGO KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Initiatives for Justice, achieves 20 years of age devoted primarily to supporting vulnerable and marginalized communities in the quest for peace, justice and human rights undermined by public authorities and other non-state actors.
In this noble and life-saving endeavour, KAIROS has worked with several other organizations from various parts of the world in a partnership dedicated to the cause of victims and survivors. The non-profit organization Héritiers de la Justice, Protestant Church Service for the Promotion of Human Rights and Peace, based in the province of South Kivu in DR Congo, has the privilege of being among the early partners.
The construction and consolidation of a human society that is dignified, egalitarian, united and free from all forms of discrimination based on race, religion, sex, social class, etc. are the leitmotivs of this partnership, which nevertheless creates space for the restoration and/or recognition by States and communities of the rights of women in fragile states struggling with or emerging from armed conflicts.
The non-profit association Héritiers de la Justice and the beneficiaries of programs it carries out with the technical and financial support of KAIROS, have amply discovered in the latter a loyal partner who never abandons vulnerable populations during critical times. “It is in misfortune that we know true friends” they say!
While the men, women, and children of several states of the world, including the DR Congo, face incredible violence, KAIROS has been and remains by their side through prayer, capacity building, Indigenous socio-economic recovery and empowerment, as well as local and international advocacy for change in legislation, policy, and programs.
It should be remembered that thanks to KAIROS, Héritiers de la Justice and other partner organizations are not only supported to implement various projects and programs in their respective countries and areas, but also, they benefit from the capacity building opportunities for their staffs. It is in this capacity that Héritiers de la Justice received financial support from KAIROS to implement the following projec s in particular:
- Support to the public sector;
- Legal clinic;
- KAIROS Women of Courage: Woman, Peace and Security; and
- Strengthening women’s groups around income-generating activities for their empowerment etc.
The activities carried out within the framework of these projects have helped to bring women, girls and even boys and men survivors of sexual and gender-based violence to break the silence and denounce the human rights abuses of which they are victims.
Héritiers de la Justice is grateful that the expressed interest in participating in the prestigious International Human Rights Training Program (PIFDH) of Equitas Canada in Montreal of four members of its technical staff has been graciously and fully approved and supported by KAIROS. This has contributed to the improvement and capacity strengthening of the organization. These include:
- 2010: Mr. Maurice Bahati Namwira, then Executive Secretary;
- 2016: Ms. Chantal Bilulu, in charge of the Women and Children Program and the Women, Peace and Security Project;
- 2019: Ms. Néné Lubala Neema, Assistant to the Women and Children Program and the Women, Peace and Security Project and Mr Alphonse Mwendelwa, Head of the Training and Institutional Strengthening Program for Héritiers de la Justice.
The hammer blow that the Héritiers de la Justice received in the early morning of July 31, 2005, during the assassination in Bukavu of its Executive Secretary, the late Pascal Kabungulu, was amply mitigated thanks to the multifaceted support of our various local and international partners. At the forefront of these partners, we singularly welcomed the support of KAIROS, which notably enabled the relocation to Canada of the biological family of the valiant HRD Pascal. In the sights of the executioners of their husband and father, Pascal Kabungulu’s wife and children were extremely traumatized in Bukavu by this tragic loss and their lives in danger have so far been preserved thanks in particular to this intervention by KAIROS. Also, this support of KAIROS was a great contribution and an immense relief for the civil society of South Kivu, the lawyers and the civil party formed during the hearings of the unfinished trial in Bukavu on this assassination.
Despite the vicissitudes that marked the first 20 years of KAIROS’ life, we are delighted to say aloud that the work done by this organization in communion with its partners has amply contributed to the vision to which God invites anyone or every group of people created in his image, that of building a world where justice, peace, truth, freedom and solidarity reign; a world which banishes exclusion and discrimination, violence, intolerance, dehumanizes poverty, and where the goods and resources of the earth are exploited and distributed rationally, taking into account future generations.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of KAIROS, the association Héritiers de la Justice of which I am the Executive Secretary, expresses from the bottom of its heart its wishes of happiness and longevity to the members and technical staff of KAIROS. It calls on national and international institutions and organizations with a mandate to promote peace, human rights, democratic governance, and the well-being of humanity to pay greater attention to the programs and other social justice initiatives undertaken by KAIROS and its partners in southern countries.
May the Eternal perpetuate our partnership ties based on the search for social cohesion, harmony, and the well-being of vulnerable populations in DR Congo and elsewhere in the world. May this solidarity inspire our every-day commitment through proactive actions and in response to acts and situations that undermine human rights and the peace of humanity.
Written by Gérard Kwigwasa Nakahuga, Executive Secretary, Héritiers de la Justice.