Publication Date

2011

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Tatsushi Arai

Abstract

People in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) have faced decades of direct and structural impacts from conflict and war. Of the many key actors in the peace process of DR Congo, the voice and capacity of young adults is generally left unheard. This study examines the role of Congolese young adults in peacebuilding in conjunction with identifying contextual protective factors of resilience. The role foreign aid workers have in development and conflict interventions is an included backdrop of focus.

Primary research data was gathered from rural communities in North Kivu from July 2010 – February 2011, and centers on a group of Congolese young adult participants in a conflict mitigation project implemented by a regional non-governmental organization. The total sample included 105 young adults, from 18 – 33 years of age. All participants completed a resilience survey which sought to measure contextual factors of resilience. Of the total sample, 24 were interviewed by the principal investigator to examine their perceived role in peacebuilding.

Results indicate the important protective factors of resilience for these young adults include the a capacity to envision a future different from their caregivers, a strong support network of peers, peer communal activities, and the presence of caregivers who are able to provide security. Inquiry also suggests a need for aid workers to refocus interventions on supporting local youth associations and work to surmount detached understandings of peace, by embracing development and conflict sensitive work that sees sameness amid genuine collaboration with Congolese people. The relationship between resilience and peace is furthered through a transformative model to learn why and how young adults have a peacebuilding role in eastern DR Congo and elsewhere. Resilience is seen as cyclically tied to conflict analysis and therefore, resolution – it is strengthened by community activities which in turn, enhance peace.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Peace and Conflict Studies

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