March 15th, 2013
09:18 AM ET

A child of war practices peace in the DRC

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @CNNEmma

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Vianney Bisimwa was just 11 years old when his country was plunged into war.

[0:09] "My father he had a good job and when the war happened in 1996 he lost his job and we went through a really difficult situation into poverty."

Bisimwa is now 27 but fighting continues in his country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Five million have lost their lives, millions displaced in a struggle between rebel factions and the government. Growing up, Bisimwa says he often felt he'd take revenge if he had a chance. Revenge for all he'd lost. But then, he started talking to other young people and his perspective changed.

[1:50] "You have a choice to make to forgive and work with others or take up arms and I said let me try the non-violence.

So now Bisimwa works with an NGO called Search for a Common Ground. The NGO works with radio stations that broadcast a soap opera all about how soldiers can reintegrate into civilian life.

Bisimwa travels around his country showing a film about sexual violence and facilitating discussions about how it can be prevented. That's a big deal in a country the United Nations once called the rape capital of the world.

The conversations are intense.

Bisimwa recalls one time a group of teenage boys started yelling criticism after the film. They finally quieted down when a woman covered in bandages got up and told her story:

[3:52] "She said, look at me, I'm full of casts because I was raped by militias or soldiers she didn't know...and she said, 'I'm not standing here so you guys can feel pity,' she said, 'I'm standing here so this won't happen to other girls, so their lives won't be destroyed like mine was destroyed.'"

A powerful moment for a country struggling to escape the grip of war.

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