Zongo, Democratic Republic of Congo – During her 55 years in the DRC, Sister Maria Concetta has learned many lessons, but slowing down isn’t one of them. An experienced midwife, the 80-year-old nun has assisted the births of more than 20,000 babies – eight of whom were the children of her good friend, Imam Moussa Bawa.
The imam, 72, doesn’t move as much or as quickly as the sister, but his words posess a quiet gravity. “People come every day to my place to ask me for advice. I tell them that they have to forget the past. If someone harmed, you should not harm him, you should forgive.”
For refugees who have fled the recent bloodshed in neighbouring Central African Republic, forgiveness can be hard to find. Much of the violence in CAR took place along religious lines, and atrocities were committed by both sides. “There will be a reconciliation with time, but not yet. We have to start step by step. This Friday again I will talk about patience,” he says.
The sister echos her friend’s sentiment. “My message is a message of peace, because peace brings development and fraternity. We need one another to grow and improve ourselves,” she says. “We interact very well with the Muslim community here. We know each other very well. When we have events bringing together the different religions, the imam always comes to the events.”
When asked if refugees listen to him, Moussa replies, “They listen to me sometimes, but I keep hope that it’s going to get better, inshallah.”