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Spring 2002 Progress Report

Fear steals away a person's willingness to resist evil
--Burundi proverb.

Working on Trauma in Burundi

By Felicity Ntikurako

To see people healing, to see the Burundi situation changing for the best was my dream.  I have seen people suffering and myself suffered.  To be a part of the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services is healing my soul.  When I am preparing for some presentation with the team, I go through books to see what I can share with them according to their situation.  Before I carry it to share I consider it for myself first.  I measure the impact it will bring on the participants according to what it has done in me. I cannot have exact words to express the joy I feel when as a team we teach people and see them opening theirs hearts for sharing.  That can be in circle of sisters, training of trainers, or primary school teachers.

When I receive a client for personal counseling, all the times they come with sadness on their faces and leave the room with a smile on their face, wanting to come back another time.


Opportunity for International Peace Team Members

The African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) of the Friends Peace Teams is recruiting two international peace team members for a 27 month commitment (September 14, 2002 until December 14, 2004) to join the Peace Team developing the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Service (THARS)  in Burundi.  This program is a joint effort of Burundi Yearly Meeting of Friends and AGLI which began its operations on April 1, 2001.  AGLI is seeking (1) a person with skills and knowledge in trauma healing, mediation, counseling, and/or Alternatives to Violence Project facilitation and (2) grant writing, administration and other administrative skills.  Applicants should have overseas experience with a preference in sub-Saharan Africa, a  willingness to learn Kirundi (the language of Burundi), willingness to live in a country with ongoing security issues due to a civil war, and abide with the strict standards of Burundi Yearly Meeting. Fundraising for the program and a commitment to stay involved with AGLI upon return to the home country are expected. 

Applicants are required to meet with a "clearness committee" and with a report submitted by its Clerk, and develop a long-term support committee for the time in Africa and after returning to the home country.  Preference will be given to members, attenders, and those knowledgeable about the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and its methods. Travel expenses, a modest stipend, and health benefits are provided. Applications are due by May 26, 2002 with selection made on June 11 for a departure around September 14, 2002.  Additional information and an application form can be obtained by emailing or by writing to African Great Lakes Initiative, 7785 Alicia Ct, Maplewood, MO 63143.

Burundi Peace Team in the States

by Adrien Niyongabo.

While in New Jersey with Carolyn, we [Adrien and Charles] went into New York City not only to contemplate the skyscrapers, but also to visit some Quakers organizations and some others.  It was really praiseworthy to see how from New Jersey to New Haven, passing by Hartford, Cambridge, Wellesley, and Greenwich Friends offered their hospitality in taking care of the Burundi Peace Team. We opened our talks by doing a presentation to the United Nations Association folks the evening of the 16th of Jan. 2002. We also talked at Montclair Meeting, Hartford Meeting, Cambridge Meeting and to Yale Divinity School. Added to that, the team met with Elise Boulding and also with the Fellowship of Reconciliation staff.  Greenwich was not the last destination for the team. After packing our big rented car (big to be able to contain all those gifts from Friends we had already met), the team reached also Washington DC passing by Philadelphia and Maryland. Once again, the team received the generosity of Friends who volunteered to host them. We spoke at Pendle Hill after a diner, spoke at University of Pennsylvania (to the staff during a lunch and to students of two classes), Sandy Spring Friends School (all the day to some classes and the evening to Friends from Sandy Spring Meeting and other Friends, Germantown Meeting, Bethesda Meeting.

Our agenda was:

  1. Trauma in Burundi

  2. THARS project

  3. Trauma healing and the cycle of violence

  4. Strategies used by THARS

  5. Sharing some stories

  6. How we became involved with trauma work

  7. Time for questions.

       Most the time, our audience asked questions like, Do you feel safe when you are working in Burundi? How can you stand with such a smile when you have to deal with such stories? How many Quakers are in Burundi? Are other folks doing trauma work in Burundi? What can we do to help?  Having the TRAUMA word translated into Kirundi (Burundi local language) which is IHAHAMUKA (your heart is turned upside down), of course, with other material and planning to work with the BASHINGANTAHE (wise men and women) was highly appreciated. It is also important to note how the lower school students at Sandy Spring School asked how children in Burundi could have fun in the midst of war. It had been hard to explain them how many kids in Burundi can not go to school because of lack of classrooms (the ones they had having been destroyed) or poverty (some are orphans). But we told them that kids in Burundi used to have fun.


Major THARS Activies for April-October, 2002


Report on THARS Consultation and Assessment

 By Val Liveoak

In the last week of January, 2002, I was a part of the three-person group including Cece Yocum and David Zaremkba representing AGLI in a consultation and assessment of the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Service.  The THARS team of Charles Berahino, Adrien Niyongabo and Carolyn Keys had just completed a speaking tour of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. I found it a great privilege and inspiration to hear a detailed account of their work and to participate in discerning their future plans.

We learned about their daily work and how they are organized. The staff of THARS meets weekly to plan the next week's work and to assign the necessary tasks to carry it out. Each team member has an assignment for the next week's work in leading workshops, writing reports, keeping financial records and counseling individual clients.

They have offered many workshops since they began work in April 2001. Common workshops  are: "What is Trauma?" "Listening Skills," "Understanding the Cycle of Violence," "Traditional Ways of Handling Grief and Loss," Training of Trauma Trainers, youth work with HIPP and  AVP. Over 400 people have attended workshops. The team reported that peoples' minds have been opened to understanding trauma, have learned about THARS' availability to offer treatment, developed a more widespread ownership of the process and techniques, increased word-of-mouth promotion of the workshops and expressed concern about helping their communities begin to recover.  The demand is much greater than the team can supply, and a current policy is to keep the profile of THARS somewhat limited so as not to be too swamped.  In working with individual clients, people frequently ask for counseling session sometimes with a specific person or with the team.

A new project, funded by a US Embassy grant, called "Training Trauma Trainers" has given the team the opportunity to work in the Quarterly Meetings away from the capital. There have been two basic workshops for new trainers, and now the biggest challenge is to oversee their work as they begin to work with others. Many times the trainers must first deal with their own trauma, so some individual work may also be needed to help this project advance.  THARS  will sponsor the initiation of AVP-Burundi, with visiting facilitators in April/May and July, 2002. There are plans for a workshop by the South African Institute for Healing of Memories. Workshops for Search for Common Ground have recently been finalized, not only offering an opportunity for outreach beyond Friends groups, but also bringing contract income to THARS .

As a result of the US speaking tour of the team, THARS has begun to receive requests from people who want to visit Burundi. It was agreed that AGLI would collect the requests, and develop guidelines for visitors to prevent the THARS staff from being overwhelmed with visitors. The guidelines will assure that visitors pay the costs associated with their visits.

One of the most exciting parts of the consultation was hearing about the issues and challenges the Team confronts.  One team member said, after listening to a problem, typically Burundians give advice. It has been challenging to learn not to do this.  Now the team members are more able to help people find their own solutions. Working with the church is very helpful because it gives church leaders skills that can help pastoral work. In workshops, participants talked about crying and how they tended to avoid it—now they have learned to allow it and value it. They have had difficulties dealing with the trauma of church members because they needed to first deal with their own trauma. It has been difficult for Burundians to find safe places because of the uncertainty—with high level of distrust, they have not let out their emotions.

In some special workshops the Team has focused on finding words for trauma and other terms they use in their work. After much discussion, they have adopted "Ihahamuka" a seldom-used word meaning "my heart is turned upside down" for "trauma."  The relief in telling the stories of their experiences and hearing those of others is cathartic, but requires the development of trust and overcoming a cultural norm of trying to ignore pain and difficulties.


History of AGLI's work in the Great Lakes Region

 January, 1999:  AGLI delegation of seven team members visits Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.  Two AGLI delegation members co-facilitate two AVP workshops, one in Mbale and the other in Kampala.  Three team members visit Burundi and conduct three trauma healing workshops.

July/August, 1999: The Kamenge Reconciliation and Reconstruction Project with seven international Team Members and seven Burundi Yearly Meeting members rebuilt a guest house/residency at Kamenge Friends Church, destroyed by fighting in that area.

February, 2000: AGLI partnered with AVP-Uganda and sent four experienced facilitators to co-facilitate AVP workshops with Ugandan facilitators. The four-team members joined with seventeen facilitators from Uganda in conducting eight AVP workshops for 140 participants, including two in a men's prisons, one in a women's prison, and one with ex-combatants.

October, 2000:  AGLI in partnership with Burundi Yearly Meeting of Friends initiates the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Service (THARS) with a peace team of four members, two Burundians and two Americans.  The team begins with six months of training including three and a half months at the Quaker Peace Centre in Capetown, South Africa.

February/March, 2001: In cooperation with Rwanda Yearly Meeting, an AGLI team consisting of three Ugandans and four Americans conduct twelve AVP workshops—four basic, two advanced, and three training for facilitators followed by three more basic workshops in which the newly trained Rwandans co-facilitated. Twenty-seven people completed the three trainings and twelve apprentices facilitated their first workshops. The Rwandans formed a committee of eight people from various parts of the country to plan for the development of AVP in Rwanda.

April to September, 2001:  On April 1, THARS begantrauma healing work in Burundi.  The Team conducted Trauma Awareness workshops for 496 participants, spoke in from of six gatherings with approximately 2055 people present, held three classes at the Great Lakes School of Theology, preached at numerous churches with approximately 2500 present, had one radio program, and counseled 24 individuals in 41 sessions.

 September, 2001:  With the help of two Ugandan AVP facilitators, AVP-Rwanda conducts nine basic AVP workshops in order to give their newly trained facilitators experience.  Afterwards they organize a one-day in-service workshop for those who facilitated in the workshops.

 October to December, 2001:  The Trauma Healing Service received a grant of $10,256 from the US Embassy in Burundi for a year-long "Training of Trainers." Twenty-three Burundians from all parts of the Yearly Meeting comprise the initial group of trainers. They participated in two three-day workshops where they learned more about trauma, its effects, and methods of healing plus work on counseling and listening skills.  These participants then returned to their home areas where they will promote trauma healing work.  Team members will visit each one of these new trainers once per month and follow up seminars are planned throughout the year.

 January to March, 2002:  AVP-Rwanda conducts eight additional basic workshops for 150 participants completely on their own.  AVP-Rwanda is now established sufficiently to organize AVP activities throughout Rwanda and conduct workshops when requested.

 January, 2002:  Three members of the Burundi peace team visited the United States.  They gave thirteen presentations on their trauma healing work in Burundi to approximately 550 people.  The team participated in an assessment with the AGLI working group and reported to the Friends Peace Teams' Coordinating Committee.

 April/May, 2002:  A two member AGLI team traveled to Burundi to work with the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Service to introduce AVP to Burundi.


Report on AVP in the African Great Lakes Region

By David Zarembka, Coordinator

 May things are happening, are planning to happen, or might happen with the Alternatives to Violence Project in the African Great Lakes Region.

RWANDA:  AVP-Rwanda has just completing Phase II of the introduction of AVP to Rwanda.  They have trained facilitators who are able to conduct basic AVP workshops with any audience.  At this time, I would like to ask that you all seek further funding for them to do additional workshops, both gain more experience and to begin the actual work of promoting non-violence conflict resolution in Rwanda.  These workshops, depending upon the situation (residential or non-residential is the major difference), cost around $500 to $1,000 each.

David Niyonzima observed part of an AVP workshop in Rwanda and has asked to be trained also.  He is currently at George Fox University completing his Masters in Counseling so he will not be able to participate in the April workshops.  After Val Liveoak, administrator of Friends Peace Teams, attends the Friends United Meeting's Triennial in Kenya, she will lead a workshop in Burundi which David can attend.

BURUNDI:  Beginning in April, the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Service in Burundi together with AGLI will begin a five week program to introduce AVP to Burundi.  The first two weeks will be one basic workshop in Bujumbura and a second in Gitega upcountry, the thrid week will be an advanced workshop in Gitega, the fourth a training for facilitator workshop in Gitega, and the last week will be three or four basic workshops spread out upcountry where the newly trained facilitators will get a chance to be apprentice facilitators.  George Walumoli and Peter Yeomans, both from the AVP-Rwanda program, will conduct the workshops along with Carolyn Keys of THARS.  Congo Yearly Meeting of Friends (eastern Congo) have asked to be involved and will send two people to these workshops in anticipation of perhaps introducting AVP to the eastern Congo.  On their return from Burundi, both George and Peter plan to pass through Rwanda to meet with the AVP facilitators in Kigali.

CONGO:  AGLI is also working with Ahmed Shariff, the AFSC's Quaker International Affairs Representative for East and Central Africa, and the Norwegian Quaker service organization, on plans to introduce AVP both to eastern Congo through Congo Yearly Meeting and Kinshasa through the Peace Center there, led by the clerk of Kinshasa Monthly Meeting.  Part of the plan here is that once the two AVP programs were started on opposite sides of the civil war, joint AVP workshops could be held, probably outside of the Congo.

KENYA:   Bware Yearly Meeting in Kenya has also asked for AVP workshops and Val Liveoak with a Ugandan facilitator may lead an introductory basic workshop there.

GREAT LAKES:  AGLI is also working through Joann Perry (AVP-Rwanda) and Friends for a Non-Violent World in Minneapolis to initiative a two year three-person AVP Peace Team for the Great Lakes Region.  This team would consist of one international, one English-speaking African, and one French-speaking African AVP facilitator.  This will cost about $37,000 per year.


As you can see, a lot is happening and much more is being planned.  We ask that everyone give advice, support, and funding sources for this myriad of possibilities so that AVP can have a greater impact on peacemaking in this unstable region.


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