Issa EbomboloMA candidate | Peace and Conflict Studies

Growing up surrounded by violence, in an armed conflict zone in the Great Lakes region of Africa, propelled Master of Peace and Conflict Studies student Issa Ebombolo to search for a better way.

Issa was a high school teacher in Congo before a war broke out. Fearing for his safety, he fled to a refugee camp in Zambia, where he began teaching math and science to children. While there, he took a course on peace building and conflict resolution organized by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a global humanitarian organization with offices in Waterloo Region. He was inspired and decided to dedicate his life to peace because, he says, “I’ve observed how destructive violence is and the need for peace, non-violent conflict resolution and peacebuilding practices.”

He was offered a scholarship to continue his studies and began working to resolve conflicts between refugees and local Zambians. In 2006, with support from the Mennonite Central Committee, Ebombolo founded Peace Clubs to help young refugees integrate into schools and to provide them with peacebuilding and conflict resolution skills. The clubs also provide a place for students to share their ideas and support one other. Since its beginnings, Peace Clubs have been created in seven other countries in Africa and have expanded into prisons, workplaces and places of worship.

Within the last six years, Issa has made several trips to Canada to learn more about peace and conflict resolution in order to better serve at home. He attended Selkirk College in British Columbia in 2013 as part of a learning exchange program between the college and the African Peacebuilding Institute in South Africa. Still, he felt he had more skills and knowledge to learn. He moved to Canada with his daughter and began the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies program at Conrad Grebel University College in 2014.

Through the program, he has learned valuable theories about conflict analysis, building civil society and the practice of peace. He has also learned how to better analyze a conflict and how to create an effective plan before taking action. Issa’s knowledge and skills from his experiences in the Congo and Zambia, and his charismatic nature, made him a valuable member of his class.

After he graduates this spring, Issa will join the Mennonite Central Committee as the national peace coordinator in Zambia, the peace resource person in southern Africa and chair of the Africa Mennonite Peace Network. He will be responsible for integrating peacebuilding in all the MCC programs in Zambia, supporting MCC peacebuilding partners in the region and teaching peace and conflict courses at the African Peacebuilding Institute and the Great Lakes Peacebuilding Institute.