Laudato Si - Didier Mugalihya CYNESA DR

My History and Commitment with Laudato Si’…

A friend once approached me towards the end of 2013 and invited me to be part of a small team that was set to participate in an African Youth Summit organized by the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa – CYNESA.

At that time, I did not know, on one hand, how to give up my Courses at the University, and on the other hand, I could not take care of myself and my travel expenses. I missed this summit!

It was, however, the beginning of a long and beautiful adventure that links desires, successes, failures, encounters and journeys to preach Laudato Si.

The team that had represented the DRC at this high youth summit consisted of two friends and in January 2014 I was admitted to the network as a youth volunteer.

The story still begins well before 2013. In 2011, as I was finishing my second year at the University, a few friends and I, sponsored by a teacher, created the Action for Environmental Management and Sustainable Development. This local organization, which is still operational to this day, aimed to: the ecological rehabilitation of the biodiversity of South Kivu in particular and DR Congo in general.

It is with hindsight that I realize today that the actions we were taking at the time already evoked the idea of safeguarding our common land.

CYNESA allowed me to go to the ‘school of the Laudato Si‘. Together with some young people, we are committed to double our efforts and act at our local level to participate in this global call of Pope Francis through his Cncyclical. This encyclical is generational as was Pacem in Terris or Populorum Progressio in their time.

Reading Laudato Si‘ allowed me to marvel at creation, to understand more about how to better inhabit the earth, to dialogue with others and especially young people. Laudato Si’ allowed me to start the engine of change.  I learned to open myself to other young people in order to set up concrete actions together. For almost five years now, we have been supporting initiatives in communes, in secondary schools and we have succeeded in transmitting the essential message of the encyclical in order to place others on the path of commitment.

Together with fellow young people, mothers, fathers and other members of the community, we were able to set up nurseries at the Rural Development College of Bukavu, at the Kitumaini Institute -Saint/Paul-, at the Technical Institute of Bukavu. The seedlings produced by these nurseries have enabled us to reforest the hills in the town of Bukavu in the Suc-Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is the hill of Camp Saio, the hill of the Lycée Wima. In addition to fighting against deforestation and erosion, the youth of CYNESA were able to decorate certain avenues of the city such as the avenue of the residence in the town of Ibanda, city of Bukavu.

Even today, and as if the consequences of human action were not conclusive on the destruction of nature, the coronavirus pandemic – Covid19-, confirms the urgent need to multiply individual and collective actions in order to bequeath a viable land to future generations.


Written by:

Didier Mugalihya,

Country Director, CYNESA DR Congo.

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