African Great Lakes 

Emergency Appeal — Mt. Nyiragongo Eruption, Democratic Republic of Congo

Gladys Kamonya and David Zarembka

Dear Friends,

I am writing with an emergency request for funds for our partners in Goma, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and nearby parts of Rwanda. As David Bucura, Coordinator of Friends Peace Teams’ African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI), reports, conditions in the region reveal a humanitarian disaster.

The situation on the ground is rapidly changing – in fact, the very ground itself is changing. Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano located about six miles from Goma, capital of the DRC province of North Kivu. North Kivu has been wracked by poverty and violence for approximately 25 years. Goma has an official population of 670,000, which some sources estimate at 2 million. AGLI has trained and supported Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) and Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) facilitators in the region for more than 20 years.

Gladys Kamonya and David Zarembka

Mount Nyiragongo erupted on May 22, 2021, causing a large lava flow. Tens of thousands of area residents fled their homes and hundreds of families were separated in the chaos. According to UNICEF USA, the lava flow destroyed 17 villages as it approached Goma. The area then experienced a 5.3 earthquake on May 25, 2021, along with over 200 aftershocks and enormous cracks in the ground. Today the North Kivu military governor ordered the evacuation of nearly a third of the residents of Goma, resulting in even more displacement in the DRC and adjacent areas in Rwanda.

FPT is now making an urgent appeal for funds to: a) provide emergency support to our AVP and HROC facilitators, some of whom have been displaced, and other vulnerable people, and b) to offer Listening Sessions and HROC workshops once the situation has stabilized for displaced residents.

If you wish to donate, you can donate online at friendspeaceteams.org. In “Designate your gift,” please select “other” and type “AGLI/North Kivu.” Or, you can send a check to Friends Peace Teams, 1001 Park Ave. St. Louis, MO 63104 and note “AGLI/North Kivu” on your check.

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Gladys Kamonya and David Zarembka
Gladys Kamonya and David Zarembka

While larger organizations will hopefully sponsor large-scale relief efforts, AGLI has a unique role to play by offering community-led mental and emotional health support programs. AGLI’s Listening Sessions include empathy exercises to get a deeper understanding of an issue or problem and give problem-solving help. They build effective listening skills and help participants open up about past and current problems. They invite participants to take an active part in the growth process, by giving participants permission to admit their need for help and to seek it. Facilitators also get an idea of how they can further help participants through programs like AVP, HROC, and others. HROC is a three-day trauma education and healing workshop. Participants learn about the causes, symptoms and consequences of trauma, and have a chance to discuss loss, grief, and mourning. HROC also helps participants deal with anger and rebuilding trust at an individual and community level.

I am attaching links to a report from David Bucura and to recent news reports. If you would like to get involved with AGLI in other ways, such as by hosting a speaker or receiving updates, please contact David Bucura or Kathryn Railsback or at +1 (208) 949-3004.

Thank you for your support.

In peace,

Kathryn Railsback
African Great Lakes Working Group, Friends Peace Teams