Zentralafrikanische Republik: Simone Clara Kossianga

In Central African Republic during the tribal wars, women, the mothers of humanity, stood up like one person, green leaves in their hands to ask the opposing combatants to stop the bloodshed.

— Simone Clara Kossianga

Simone Clara Kossianga (49) leads a religious-based organization, the Union of Baptist Churches (Ufeb). She is a secondary school teacher and helps women to assist one another, gain additional training through religious-based seminars, and thus be peace and reconciliation facilitators in Central Africa.

“Being the head of this women network for peace, I am sustained by conviction,” says Clara Kossianga. She is well placed to advocate for peace because she has lived through crisis, political disturbances and riots. The search for a long lasting peace has become a daily labor of love. “The courage of the women, their determination enables me to go on fighting to the end," she says. Living in a country that has known political and military turmoil, Clara Kossianga has had to make a lot of sacrifices to visit local provinces to work with women’s groups. With limited funding, visiting remote areas, particularly those more than 1200 km away from the capital, is but a labor of love. She often has to use her own resources to do that. Her salary as a school teacher and additional incomes from odd jobs are what enable her to meet the demands of her children including school fees and to supplement the organization as necessary. She works with more than 10,000 women in the entire country. She encourages women to participate without taking sides in the national reconciliation processes in crisis time, in order to link them to decision making in churches and the society. She also encourages women to improve their ability to manage themselves and others especially the elderly, orphans and pygmies who are dependent on humanitarian support. Now, training is oriented to development and capacity building, including HIV/Aids awareness. She helps them in the fight against HIV/Aids in the family and religious environments. For instance after several seminars on HIV/Aids, women volunteered themselves for testing, and committed to using preventive methods in Christian environment (use of condoms). They realized that with a prevalence level of 15 percent no one was safe in the country.

Union of Baptist Churches (Ufeb)