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"Seven weeks to look, see, learn, and share some skills in Conflict Resolution…
For over a year this journey has gradually been coming together. But the seeds were sown over 40 years ago when serving in Tanzania with the Peace Corps."  

Case Studies - Goma, Congo 2007

The meeting was asked on Friday to determine how many mediations each had done and to bring that number and a case study about one or two mediations.

Cases lasted from 45 minutes to 5 days because one participant was so afraid of an outcome that he went into hiding several times. Numerous cases were with people whom the mediator knew socially or professionally. That is why I opened the discussion abut mediating in one's parish community. There were a high number of agreements and people seemed to be following up on many cases, because of the connectedness to the participants. Below is a recounting of about 20 cases of the fifty-five done by the group.

Case #1 (Mediator has done 7 cases)
Parties: A parish member and a building contractor. It was over the builder's failure to meet expectations of the client. Case resolved. Follow up has been ongoing and agreement is holding.

Case #2 (Mediator has done 4 cases, three with agreement and case below is ongoing)
Case involved neighbors of the mediator and was adultery by one of the parties.

Case #3 Mediator has done 2 cases, 1 agreement, 1 ongoing) Mediator is trained as a doctor but now is a pastor.
The case involves a divorce and 2nd marriage by the husband. Husband dies of AIDS and his family blames this on the 2nd wife, they want her out of any inheritance. This is ongoing.

Case #4 (Mediator has done 1 case and it settled. Mediator is female)
Parties are two sisters living in same residence. One sister comes in late every evening and causes much disturbance in the house. Case resolved in mediation and follow up indicates the settlement is holding.

Case #5 (Mediator has his own group of mediators and they have done 13 cases to date.)
This was a civil case in which the parties were businessmen who both owned mototaxi companies. A driver from each company were involved in a collision that sent one to the hospital and the to jail. This case lasted 2 days and settled. Damages were agreed upon , no trial was held , as the victim did not file a complaint against the other party. Incarcerated driver was released from jail.

Case # 6 (Mediator is same as Case #5)

Case resolved, although there was no time for details as we had a lot of people waiitng to tell their stories.

Case #7 Mediator has done 2 cases, 1 settled, 1 ongoing.
Case was post divorce. Husband wanted a reconcilliation of the marriage. He agreed to pay the balance of one-half the dowry which he had not yet paid to the first bride's family. What is interesting to me as a mediator from the West is the involvement of the wife's family in mediation because of the dowry custom. They truly give the woman in marriage for a remittance and therefore are parties to the case. So if we as mediators in the West come to teach mediation 'our way' , we must certainly understand or accept 'their way'. This case is ongoing.

Case #8 Mediator has done 1 case. Mediation settled. Case involved two girls who gossiped about each other, Case resolved. Holding on follow up.

Case #9 Same mediator as Case #7.
Choir director vs. a signer in choir.
Choir director has accused singer of practicing witchcraft. There was a lot of disturbance in the choir because of this. I did not get all the details of the case , but it resolved very quickly in 45 mninutes. Mediator was the pastor of the church.

Case #10 Mediator has done 3 cases, all settled.
Case was equivalent to post decree, shared parenting agreement.

Case #11 Case done by mediator of Case #10
Brother A vs Brother B
Involved a $3000 loan which resulted in a business failure. Brothers were fighting about the debt. Debt was forgiven in the mediation.

Case #12 Mediator has done 2 cases both settled, Mediator is female.
Goat Seller vs. Goat Seller

Mediator has a booth in a public market. At the market two women goat sellers got into a fight over the sales success of one and the poorer performance of the other. They argued about the stealing of one's clients. One complained to the market manager. The mediator offered to mediate the case. Case settled and she was asked to do a second mediation also between goat sellers. My question to her, was when might her services become worth some monetary value to the market manager or should she open a booth for mediation? Follow up is good.

Case #13 The mediator has done 3 cases, all settled.
Case occurred during an Alternatives to Violence Project workshop. It was between husband and wife. Wife had been committing adultery, sometimes staying away from the house for a month at a time. They reconcilled and followup indicates settlement holding.

Case #14 Mediator has done 1 case
Brother vs. Brother

Younger brother borrowing older brother's clothes, returning them dirty or not returning them at all. Agreed to both use their own clothers only.

Case #15 Mediator is a recent high shcool graduate. This is his only case, but it could be considered one of the highest profile cases in the group. The conflict began in a school dormitory and involved student elections which involved partiality based on tribalism which also related to regionalism, North Kivu (Goma) vs. South Kivu (Bukavu). There was no crossover in voting by the students. The mediator was president of the Goma Students Association. Two students from opposing sides fought in the street. It led to one of the students carrying a knife at all times for protection. The two students who fought, the student leaders, and the school administration were all threatened with expulsion and/or dismissal by the regional education office. Mediator met with other student leader and the two students and made a peace agreement, and the two students who fought, and asked the student body for forgiveness. The students all graduated including mediator. However he said that the problem is still one that is ongoing at the school. It also reflects regional tension between the two provinces.


Case # 16 The mediator has mediated one case and it resolved.
A young boy who had never attended school contracted with a professional teacher for an agreed price of $20 per month to be taught reading and writing. After two months without paying, the boy gave up and refused to pay anything. He said he had learned nothing and should not have to pay. Tthe teacher took him to court. The boy's mother was involved as she made an implied threat to poison the teacher or use some other means to bring harm. The teacher came to the mediator for mediation. They settled on 2 payments at half price.

Case #17 Mediator had two cases.
Husband and wife in a divorce case because of husband's adultery. Husband had not yet paid dowry to wife's familly. He used the money instead for his adulterous pleasures. The married couple had three children and one on the way when the wife called it quits. The husband took a second wife in the meantime, but that union did not succeed either. The mediator was the first couple's pastor. The first wife came back, the second wife was divorced out and the first couple have been ok together for the last 5 months.

Case #18 Mediator has had 6 cases all with resolution. This was potentially the most violent case of the cases that were discussed. The mediator became aware of a father who was busy sharpening a panga (machete) to cut the arms of his own 16 year old son. He even stated that the child would only need to wear a short sleeved shirt from now own. The father was on the road frequently for his work. While he was gone the son found the father's hiding place for his money and cleaned him out. Then he stole Dad's bike and sold it. This happened over the period of a year. This mediation lasted five days as the son was often hiding out from the father. In the end, the father forgave the son. Class asked what my thoughts were and how this would be handled at home. I went over the possibilities of Juvenile Court, Childrens Services referrals and also indicated that the mediator probably had a goal in this case, which was to prevent injury and further court involvement.

Case #19 Mediator has done 2 cases, both resolved.
Husband vs. Wife
Husband has been adulterous and contracted an STD but not HIV. Husband had himself treated but was not cured. Wife contracted STD from husband. After her diagnosis , she went home and removed all belongings in the house and went to her parent's house (to be continued due to electical interruption).

Wife's in-laws contested. Husband admitted his acts and his embarrassment to talk about the problem directly to his wife. In the meantime his business went bankrupt and there was no money to get medical treatment for either of them. The mediator was able to refer them to a free clinic that he knew of where they were treated successfully and the wife forgave him and came home.

Case #20 Mediator has done 3 cases all resolved.
Three business partners are in conflict, two against the one who spent a commission for all three of them. Mediator hearing about the problem offered to mediate including asking them to consider cost of a trial. Case resolved.

Case #21 Very interesting scenario. Mediaor has done 1 case and it resolved.
Husband and wife live together. Husband's younger brother lives in their house and wife's younger sister lives in the house. There is a pregnancy between the younger two. Husband chose to ignore the problem, wife threatens to leave if a marriage is not arranged. Mediator knew the family and mediated after the wife left. Result: There was no marriage but the husband's parents took responsibility of the child. Wife accepted this and the young couple are kept apart. Wife came home.

My view of these case studies is that mediators are not backing away from potentially difficult cases even though their mediation experience is limited. Probably their pastoral experience is beneficial to them as well. However I do suspect that the high number of resolved cases indicates a certain degree of directiveness in mediation. But it must also be remembered that the cases were open and often in high conflict before mediators became involved. To me this still qualifies as mediation. It may nbot be of the school of some mediation theory but it certainly falls under the blanket of conflict resolution.

I would certainly recommend continued use of the process, regular meetings, and maybe even some regional meetings if funding becomes available. I've also recommended some form of publicity in the form of press releases, invitation of government offficials to attend some of the meetings to hear about the program. I have also asked them to consider the possibiolity of charging a fixed fee with a sliding fee scale to parties to help fund the organization and compensate the mediator for his/her time.

George Brose
July 15, 2007, Gisenyi

 

 

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