Learning Together after conflict

CTBI’s Christine Elliott recently returned from a fact-finding visit to projects in Rome. Over the coming week’s she’ll be blogging about her encounters.

I’d like you to meet James (not his real name). He’s 18 years old and from Conakry, Guinea. In the photo he is attending his Italian class, run by the Community of Sant’Egidio.

When he was just 17 the conflict between the Konianke tribe (who are mostly Muslim) and the Guerze tribe (who are a mix of Christians and animists) hit home as his father was killed directly in front of him.

James ran for his life, and fled the country. It took him over a year to get to Italy and all the while he was on the lookout for Muslims in case they might attack him too.

But now, he sits in a mixed class, with women and men, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists, all learning Italian together in order to live and work and thrive.

It is the together bit that is important.

James sits beside and in front of two Muslim classmates, people who share the same faith tradition as those who killed his father.

He is learning what it means to trust others again, how to live alongside those with whom he differs, learning to allow his heart to open up again in a spirit of friendship.