Congolese Peacemaker follows her father’s lead standing up for women

 

Monique Misenga Mukuna is one of 15 International Peacemakers coming to the U.S. this fall

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Monique Misenga Mukuna

LOUISVILLE — People used to tell Monique Misenga Mukuna’s father that he did not have children because he had more girls than boys — 11 girls and three boys, to be precise.

In many African cultures, including Mukuna’s native Democratic Republic of the Congo, women and girls have second-class status, not enjoying many of the advantages of men and boys. Mukuna’s father wasn’t having that.

“My father said that, ‘My girls will become the men one day,’” Mukuna wrote. “He sent us to school, he taught us different skills saying that ‘I won’t like you to become the slaves of people.’ All this because he was a Christian.”

She attributes that to her father’s birth in Luebo, also home to the first American Presbyterian mission in Congo.

Mukuna has taken her father’s lead, devoting her life to working to raise the status of women in the DRC, where she says sexism and paternalism are still cultural norms.

This September and October, Mukuna will be one of 15 International Peacemakers traveling to communities across the United States to share their experiences under the auspices of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

Peacemakers are available to visit around the country from Sept. 13 to Oct. 7. Visits are coordinated with mid councils (synods and presbyteries) and can include visits to churches, seminaries, colleges, universities and similar institutions. Visits generally last three to five days, but they can be extended as needed.

Click here for the application to request a Peacemaker.

As she visits the United States, Mukuna will be talking about her work as president of Woman, Cradle of Abundance, an organization working to stamp out systemic poverty and violence against women in the DRC.

“The major challenges in my country are poverty, corruption, war, rape of women, marginalization of women and girls,” Mukuna wrote in answers to questions submitted to the Peacemakers by the Peacemaking Program. “My organization provides education for uneducated girls, teaching them income-generating skills, sensitization of people for gender justice, bringing women and girls to be aware that they are human beings created in God’s image.

“To address these challenges, we decided to identify the main cause (system). For my country …  colonization, tradition or culture, dictatorship, misunderstanding of the Gospel, the extraordinary richness of the country, ignorance of human rights by Congolese themselves (men and women). So, our work is to address the systems and to help people to break those systems by raising their awareness to know that God created all humankind in his image, to live free and be beneficiaries of his creation, live abundantly.”

Those are big goals, but Mukuna also celebrates individual victories, such as the transformation of a girl who was orphaned and shunned by society. Under the care of Woman, Cradle of Abundance, she healed, was educated and is now a high school graduate.

While she highlights her work with the organization in her questionnaire, Mukuna has a long resume with credits including President of the Presbyterian Community of Kinshasa’s Committee in Charge of Projects. She previously served the group as Director of the Department of Women and Families and as Coordinator for HIV/AIDS care. She’s also been National Secretary of the Protestant Women’s Federation in the DRC and a member of the World Council of Churches Central Committee.

In coming to the United States, Mukuna embraces the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 invitation — to build congregational vitality, address systemic poverty and dismantle structural racism ­— and give it an international flair.

“This fall we will have the same understanding of our calling,” Mukuna writes. “We will open our mind and serve our Lord according to Matthew 25.”

Click here to give to the International Peacemakers program.

Read more:

Peacemakers will tell churches about Matthew 25 work around the world

She helped indigenous people find their story in God’s word


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