Justice is an inalienable right for all – even the poorest

Furaha lives in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and has a small business selling sweet potatoes at the local market. When her husband died, she almost lost the land on which she and her five children live and depend for their livelihood. So she turned to one of Alert's ‘peace huts’ for support.

(Français)

"My husband died in January 2009, leaving me with four children and several months pregnant. After he died, life went on with the only field he had left us. I rented the field out, which meant I was able to cover the costs of my children's education and other things we needed, but also, and most importantly, it enabled me to build up my business, which provided food for the family.

Two years later my field was sold by my husband's older brother. It was bought by a fairly wealthy man who lived in Goma and who immediately sent his workers to start working the field. I just didn't know what to do. Later the same year I started legal proceedings with the community authorities, in order to get justice and recover my field, but the process wasn't successful. It all got more and more complicated and I just didn't understand any of it. No one seemed to be on my side, not even in my husband's family, which I told about the problem. So we were left without our field, and then the business – which now had to cover all our expenses – also began to fail, because that was all we had to pay for everything we needed for over two years.

"In September 2013 I found out about the revival of the peace huts [supported by International Alert] and I immediately went there with my dispute over the field. It wasn't easy, but I can say that the peace hut did everything it was meant to and justice was done; my field was returned to me. It was such a relief for me and for my family, after two years without schooling for the three children who had already been at school, not to mention how stressful it was all that time, with no other source of income.

"Now it's as though the light has come back into our family – the field means everything to us. It's all thanks to the work of the peace hut, which didn't ask for any payment from us. We didn't have to pay any costs and everything was done so quickly. I'd really like to say a huge thank you to the people from the peace hut and to everyone who supports them. Now I know that next school year there'll be no problem about my children going to school and I've already restarted my business with the first rent payment we received for the field. I feel really confident now."

Peace huts are somewhere where communities can come together to resolve their differences peacefully and are therefore a vital way to prevent grievances escalating into violence.

Help us to continue to support peace huts around the world. By donating today you could help women like Furaha seek justice and have their voices heard. Donate here.


« Mon mari est mort en janvier 2009, laissant 4 enfants et une grossesse de quelques mois. À sa mort, la vie a continué avec l’unique champ qu’il nous a laissé après son départ. Je louais ce champ à d’autres personnes, ce qui me permettait de trouver de l’argent pour payer la scolarité de mes enfants et subvenir aux autres besoins, mais aussi et surtout pour renforcer mon petit commerce qui servait à remplir les besoins en nourriture du ménage.

« Deux ans après, mon champ a été vendu par le grand frère de mon mari à un homme assez riche qui résidait à Goma et, du coup, l’acheteur a envoyé ses travailleurs pour commencer à exploiter le champ et moi je ne savais plus quoi faire. J’ai intenté cette même année une action auprès des autorités coutumières pour que justice soit faite et pour récupérer mon champ, mais cette démarche n’a pas abouti. Tout devenait de plus en plus flou et moi-même je n’y comprenais rien. Personne ne semblait être de mon côté, même dans la famille de mon mari à qui j’avais aussi exposé le problème. Nous sommes donc restés sans notre champ. Le petit commerce qui devait alors couvrir tous nos besoins a aussi fait faillite au bout d’un certain temps parce que c’est là qu’il fallait gagner de l’argent pour couvrir tous nos besoins, et cela, pendant plus de 2 ans.

« J’ai appris la relance des activités de la Paillotte de paix en septembre 2013 et j’y suis allée directement pour présenter mon contentieux sur le champ. Ça n’a pas été facile mais je peux dire que la Paillotte a fait tout ce qu’elle devait faire et justice a été rendue. Mon champ m’a été restitué, ce qui a été un grand soulagement pour moi et notre famille, après deux ans sans études pour les 3 enfants qui étudiaient déjà. Le manger, n’en parlons pas, un véritable casse-tête au quotidien et aucune autre source de revenu.

« Aujourd’hui, c’est comme si la lumière était revenue sur notre famille car ce champ constitue tout pour nous, grâce au travail de la Paillotte de paix, sans avoir à payer quoi que ce soit. Cela s’est fait plus rapidement, donc un grand merci aux membres de la Paillotte de paix et à tous ceux qui les soutiennent. Maintenant, je sais que l’année scolaire prochaine, mes enfants vont étudier sans beaucoup de peine, et j’ai déjà relancé mon petit commerce grâce au premier paiement de la location du champ. Je me sens très en confiance. »