Indonesien: Brigitta Renyaan

I will continue to defend the children and women, in war or in peace.

— Brigitta Renyaan

Sister Brigitta Renyaan was born in Langur, Maluku, in 1953. After finishing teacher's college, she took her vows as a nun of the order of the Sacred Heart of Princess Mary and devoted herself to guiding the youth. With the outbreak of violence in Maluku, she focused her efforts on women and established the Forum for Women’s Welfare Gerakan Perempuan Peduli (GPP) in 1999, and she worked in Soya, Ambon, at a camp for internally displaced persons. Working with refugees, Brigitta has met people at their most vulnerable. She is acknowledged as a counselor, teacher and mediator.

On December 26, 1999, Sister Brigitta Renyaan invited Moslem and Christian orphans to an inter-faith gathering in Silo to mark both Christmas and the breaking of the Moslem fasting month. The religious tensions in Ambon were heating up, the Silo church and An’ Nur mosque had been burned down and the gathering angered some Christians who surrounded the building demanding that the event be cancelled. Sr Brigitta faced the crowd and said, "Go ahead, if you want to bomb us! Let us all die!" Her challenge dispersed the crowd. For Malukkans, Sr Brigitta’s name evokes peace. After graduating from the Fajar Langgur Teacher’s College in 1973, she entered the monastery and taught elementary school for over 15 years at the Xaverius Catholic School in Ambon where she welcomed non-Christian students, setting the tone for the school. The children at Xaverius are taught the spirit of tolerance from a young age. On one occasion in the fasting month, when the Christian children were told that their Moslem schoolmates were fasting, they too wanted to fast. "I am not a teacher of religion but a general teacher who tries to support children’s development and creativity according to their respective religious values," says Sr Brigitta. In 1999, she co-founded Gerakan Peduli Perempuan (GPP) to address the effects of the Maluku conflict on women. Through GPP, Sr Brigitta and her friends have lobbied for an end to the violence in Ambon, counseled displaced children, provided aid – including inter-faith spiritual guidance – to survivors of the religious strife. Sr Brigitta is happy to see peace in Ambon, but she warns that the work of reconciliation and stabilization is not done.

Gerakan Perempuan Peduli (GPP) Putri Bunda Hati Kudus–Order of the Sacred Heart of Princess Mary