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Where the UN/DRC tried to starve them into submission, he gave them communion. When every official taunted them mercilessly about their helpless predicament, he consoled them and treated them with kindness. In a place of despair he offered hope and did his ultimate duty as a catholic priest. He cared for the weak and the persecuted quietly until last Saturday Sept 5, 2015 when his silent work became too loud for the world not to miss, as 101 children were baptized, 15 received their first communion and 17 couple got married. His name is Father Jean Fidel, a Major and a Chaplain in the Congolese Military but most of all he is a Priest who takes his job seriously. The day before this amazing day, he unlisted the help of two other Priests to give confession  to the parents, the god parents and the couples to be wed the next day, and to the children who were to receive their first communion. All throughout two nuns were present to help organize the proceedings and make this a day worthy of the Lord’s glory.


For the refugees who have lived in constant stress, on this day they vowed to forget all the troubles and just soak in the joy of seeing their faith in God and humanity being rewarded with such an event. This was such a tremendous event that even the Colonel Commander of Camp Bauma, where these souls have been going through some of the human harsh tribulations joined in the mass celebration, even posing for pictures with the newest members of the Holy Catholic Church.


Major Faustin Mugisha who was the first one to be inexplicably put into solitary confinement, in UN jail for simply speaking out for these refugees, was allowed to spend time with his 8 days old baby and his beloved wife for the very first time. He got to witness his children being baptized, even serving as God Parent to another child. This event marked a bright day in what has been quite an ordeal for these refugees and which is far from being over. The last time MONUSCO’s Martin Kobler was at the camp, he put a time clock on these refugees lives, telling them that unless they decide to return to Rwanda between now and Sept 31, they will no longer be assisted by the UN in a shape or form and that they will be left at the mercy of the Congolese Military, of which some elements have shown a great deal of cruelty to the refugees.


When MONUSCO and the DRC government insist on sending these refugees to Rwanda without making any kind of demands on the Rwandese Government to make peace with its opposition, they fail to take into consideration the history of those who returned and were never heard from, and this does not just count for simple common folks. In 1996 Catholic Bishop Phocas Nikwigize returned to Rwanda to be tortured, humiliated for days and was later summarily executed and buried in a mass grave according to several sources, including some of his tormenters who still brag about what they did to him. To this day there has never been any serious call for justice for this Bishop whose only crime was having stayed with the refugees in Eastern DRC, and for being a Catholic Bishop.


Many people wonder why all the images of Rwandan refugees out of the DRC seem to show everything in tatters except for a few specific items: brand new statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and most of the refugees seem to get hold of nice shiny rosary beads. This is not an accident. As the world has tried to take everything from these people; their dignity, their humanity even their God given right to life, there is one thing they have never allowed anyone to tamper with, and that is their faith.

Towards the end of 2012 a brave young American of Rwandese origin dared to do what no one else dared to do until that point. He visited the refugees in Eastern DRC and he talked about it when he came back. One of the most revealing remarks the young man made was the fact that these refugees do pray a lot, and he credited their faith as one of the main pillars of their resilience. Nothing demonstrate how right this young man’s assertions are true than the events of last Saturday in Kisangani. Chaplain Jean Fidel was a true artisan of peace in the words of St Francis, and his actions proved that on any given day, in any place on Earth, Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother Mary will have their say, if they so choose.

Louise Mukasine



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