Lomi

Lomi_walking

Pastor Thomas Wangambeso (left) and Dieudonne Ousman (right)
fetching water from the new well in Lomi

When we announced to our local staff that we were planning to drill a well in the Lomi neighborhood, our community trainer, Jean-Albert’s reaction was, “Oh! This is going to be tough!”

 

He was aware that Lomi is a mixed community of Christians and Muslims, two groups that have been on opposite sides of the recent conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). But at that point he didn’t know that Lomi had established a community Association of Muslims and Christians for Peace with the goal of preventing violence and setting an example for other communities. The association took the initiative to raise $200 toward the water project and they reached out to Water for Good because they wanted to use a new water well to share God’s love with the population and seek reconciliation.

Lomi had only one water well for nearly 2,000 people. Most people would fetch water from the river, far from the neighborhood. During the recent conflict, many Muslims were forced to flee their homes—the Muslims of Lomi sought refuge at the nearby Catholic parish, living in harsh conditions for over a year. As tensions started to subside, people began returning to their homes. When Water for Good trainer, Jean-Albert, was asked to come to Lomi and train a new well committee, he knew it would be a delicate situation. Although tensions were still high as the Muslims were just returning to their homes, he would need to include both Muslims and Christians as he helped form the local well committee.

On his first visit, only the local Christians arrived at the meeting. So Jean-Albert began knocking at the doors of each Muslim home to encourage them to come. By the end of the session, Jean-Albert had worked intensively with the thirty attendees and together they had established the neighborhood well committee, composed of a pastor (president of the committee), and two Muslims (vice-president and treasurer). Establishing the committee sent a powerful yet simple message.

“Water is for everyone, and everyone needs water.”

 

When Water Brings Peace from Water for Good on Vimeo.

We recently revisited the Lomi community to see how things were going with their new water well. The pastor explained that the well committee works in harmony. He is proud that they are an example to the rest of the city.

pastor

“I am a pastor, responsible for a church in the Lomi neighborhood of Berberati. And my name is Thomas Wangambeso. We requested this well, in support of social cohesion. The [conflict] times came, and [Muslims] left, and went to the Catholic mission…After we made the well request, it was God who directed things, and we received the new well. And shortly afterwards, the Muslims returned. And they themselves saw that there was the well in front of the church and they were content… Because back in the day, we used to do long distances, go long distances to get water. But now that we have water on the site we are together. And we’ll continue to live together… because this is their home.”

The Muslim community members shared their story and their perspective on the new water access.

“My name is Ousman Dieudonne. I’m a Muslim, but I’m also a Central African. Before, we had to go a LONG way to get water. But today we’ve come back and we get water here to wash clothes, to cook things with, and our children can even come get water here without any problems. We see that, and it makes us very happy. That’s why I give this testimony that we are here among Christians.”

The path to lasting peace in the Central African Republic depends on supporting groups like the neighborhood association for peace in Lomi.

 

 

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