Bisoke Balikenga is a local Mission Partner working in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which has over 440 tribes which are known to conflict over land, resources, power for long. Bisoke is based in Bunia- North East of Congo. In 2004 started off by organizing a conference on reconciliation and peace where the participants formed a club of reconciliation and this is the program he manages to date.
His main focus is on the Youth and Children under the Anglican Province of CONGO where his activities are geared towards building the youth physically morally and spiritually.
Over the past 10 years, Balikenga has initiated groups, choirs, seminars workshops trainings teach them about peace and reconciliation program which is a major issue of concern in DRC.
In early 2015, Balikenga who is an ordained Minister under the Anglican Church held a workshop for all the Youth in the diocese of Boga where he trained them on social issues. “We run a workshop for the Diocese of Boga in which we had many of the young people from the conflict prone areas. The workshop went so well. It was resolved that we plan another workshop on peace and reconciliation designed to prepare the youth for the election because of their vulnerability to be used in violence,” says Balikenga.
The first vision Conference took place in March and CMS-Africa Representative in DRC Jeff Sikabwe facilitated the training. Participants were drawn from all churches in Bunia and many have adopted these teaching on wholistic transformation and are teaching the same in their Churches. The resultant seed project was a formation of a group whose mission is to reach out to drug/alcohol addicts. We have visited many of the affected in Bunia and shared a meal with them while shaing the word of God and praying with them. This is a departure from the norms as Christians in DRC believe that drug and alcohol addicts are outcast who should be left alone. The pastors who gathered for this seminar learned that even addicts are God’s creation Christ came to restore to himself (Col 1:3)
The second VISION Conference in this year 2015 was organized by CMS-Africa with support from the Samaritan Purse. Samaritan Stratgey Africa Trainer from Rwanda Pastor Jacob facilitated this training. The out-come was to help us to visit the people who lost all theirs loves from Gety by giving them cloth , food from the members who attend the seminar .
“We want to do more vision Conference but we have some challenges of not having fund for the traveling” conludes Bisoke
Through these engagements with the Youth, Bisoke seeks to engender responsible living in the society amongst young people by encouraging them to start their own sustainable activities to earn a living. “Land as the capital investment is being used for farming and people generate income. Some of the youth have formed a group where they are running businesses.” Says Balikenga.
In spite of the people of DRC being greatly endowed with natural resources, they remain poor as there land remain fallow, or minerals continue to be extracted by foreigners. Worse still, minerals have over the years been demonized and many of the church members are rarely involved in mineral extraction. All that the Youth in DRC think of is burning charcoal and selling to towns to earn a living. This mentally has been transformed through messages of wholistic transformation that is preached through the CMS-Africa intervention in DRC.
At Mahagi area in Bunia, a Youth training Centre that trains people in sociology has been imitated. A British lady Judy Acheson who authored a Manual for Sunday School and Youth widely used by the Anglican Church in DRC is the one who started the Youth and Children program in the Anglican Church in Mahagi. This lady devoted her life in Congo for 30 years and Balikenga is carrying on with the good work she started. “Enjoy your Youth and Young People let us Built our Countries, With God let us fight poverty “ are among other books written by Judy and which are now under use by Balikenga.
Likewise, a Centre for Peace and Reconciliation for the Young people has been proposed and will be building Bunia. Bisoke has already bought land at Rwampara and he is keen to start a program for the youth workers. It is at a place with electricity and thus a nice place where a Center for Empowering the Youth and training people on peace building and conflict resolution. This will equip them with practical skill and entrepreneurship; making them useful in the society. The centre will be used as an evangelism platform reaching out to the young people. It will also serve as a recreation centre as well as a reconciliation centre owing to rampant conflicts within DRC.
A School for the orphans based in Bunia has also been set up and currently attend to tens of needy children. This is being done in partnership and with support from the Church Army and All Saints Cathedral: Mission to Congo Brazaville.
The Archbishop of Congo have given us the land where we can build a Center where we are calling Business Center for Agape , it is where we can do more business where the youth department can generate money for the function of the youth work. You can see the picture from the attachment the Archbishop Isingoma went to put the first stone.
Bisoke Balikenga intends to oragnise a workshop with all the Provincial Youth Workers from each Diocese in 2016. This will cost in the upwards of 31 000 US dollars.
Plans are underway to train the Youth on Peace Building and Conflcit Management before the presidential election. This is because the youth are used to cause chaos but the Anglican Church Youth Department is eager to forestall this. We have to transform the young people from agents of violence to tools of peace reconciliation among the Congolese.