“Peace” was at the heart of everything Jesus taught us and everything he did for us.
As we observe the season of Lent and prepare ourselves spiritually for the great celebration of Easter, we would like to tell you the story of a recent Easter when a small group of Maryknoll Sisters helped earn a great victory for peace.
Sisters Giang Nguyen, Sia Temu, and Teresa Hougnon serve in the Tana Delta district in the East African nation of Kenya. There they established Conversations for Social Change, a program through which problems can be solved through talking rather than fighting.
The Pokomo and Orma tribes, living in that area have a history of violent clashes rooted in old ethnic rivalries. The violent conflicts lasted several months, resulting in many deaths. “On the day of the attack,” the Sisters report, “all hose killed were children, pregnant mothers and the elderly who were not able to outrun the attackers.”
With the two sides stuck in a cycle of vengeance, Conversations for Social Change requested permission to bring the two sides together to try to begin healing the hatred and distrust. The Sisters tell us, “Over eight months we met with about 80 people in small groups of 10. The participants were committed to continue to work for reconciliation but did not yet feel they were reconciled.”
The Easter story of rebirth, renewal, and the victory of peace is illustrated by one women involved in these talks.
Aisha, the wife of the Orma tribe’s Imam. Her son was killed in the attack on the schoolhouse, and she also lost her father in the conflict. When the Conversation program began, she was angry and bitter and refused to even be in the same room with a Pokomo. As time passed, though, she came to see her grief as a motivator for change rather than revenge, wanting to bring an end to the conditions that led to her family members’ deaths. “I am here because I am ready to rebuild our country,” she said.
A change began to take place after Conversations for Social Change brought the women of both tribes and the men of both tribes together for separate discussion encounters. The sides agreed to a reconciliation. The local government representative was astonished by this breakthrough.
This kind of victory that can be accomplished thanks to the support of faithful friends like you! As Easter approaches, we offer you our sincerest thanks, and we hope that you thank God for blessing you with kindness, generosity, and the desire to make the world a better place!