Now brothers and sisters

“They are now brothers and sisters, and now death amongst us shall stop.”

That’s the promise made by Nuer women and Murle women in South Sudan who worked with RECONCILE International – a promise all the more amazing because of the conflict between these peoples.

Milcah and sign about her presentationMilcah Lalam, Programs Manager & Acting Principal for the RECONCILE Peace Institute, told the story during an adult education class at First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York.

Inter-ethnic fighting between the Murle and Nuer tribes claimed many lives during 2009. RECONCILE reports:

There are many explanations for the fighting, ranging from decades-old disputes to third-party spurning and instigation. Whatever the case, the violence has heightened, and now involves relatively new instances of women and child casualties and abductions. Such intense conflict has had an extreme traumatising effect on members of the two tribes, especially women and children.

Recognizing the need to address the emotional and spirtual wounds in the Nuer and Murle communities, as well as the conflict between the ethnic groups in general, RECONCILE sought a way to respond.

With the support of Presbyterian Women, RECONCILE led three workshops in November, 2009 – two in Murle communities and one in a Nuer community. From these workshops, the Nuer and Murle women began a written conversation that focused on the desire to meet and work for peace among their peoples. This conversation led to meetings between the women. And at one of those meetings, RECONCILE reports:

The women ‘shared’ babies with each other. This act carried a very deep traditional peacemaking commitment. The women explained the significance this way: “My baby is yours and yours is mine, and now these are our children. They shall not fight against each other for they are now brothers and sisters, and now death amongst us shall stop.”

Supported by RECONCILE, the Murle and Nuer women continue the journey to peace.

IMG_3354 Milcah also talked about RECONCILE’s work to heal the trauma endured by the people of Sudan through years of war and violence. Often this trauma-healing involves the use of art, drama, and games.

Watch for video clips of Milcah’s presentation.

Milcah is present in New York for the Commission on the Status of Women. Her visit is made possible by Presbyterian Women.

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations hosted the Presbyterian participants in the Commission and arranged for Milcah to lead the adult class at First Presbyterian.

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