SUMMER, 2002: Volume 7, Issue 2
BURUNDI: AVP Has a New "Baby"
It is an age-old tradition to announce to one's relatives and friends that one's family has got a newborn. There is a difficult choice of the exact words to blaze abroad such good and happy news. Imagine how many times parents have written to their friends and relations. Imagine again how difficult the choice of the words to encode such a small message has usually been.
In short, Friends Peace Teams' African Great Lakes Initiative, with funding from the Drane Family Fund have done it. Through a kind "dowry" they paid to a "couple" of three facilitators: Peter Yeomans, AVP name, AMAHORO (Peace) Peter, Carolyn Keys, named CREATIVE Carolyn (American citizens) and George Walumoli named GREAT George (a Ugandan citizen), the Alternative to Violence Project (AVP) family is extending to Burundi and hopefully to the eastern Democratic Republic of CONGO (DRC).
The story of AVP in Burundi will actually sound nice, since it portrays a good meeting for peace in the Great Lakes region torn by strife and wars. Among the recently trained facilitators, whose majority is made of Burundians, there were three Congolese from the DRC. In a friendly and lovely atmosphere of brotherhood, the participants shared their life experiences and were pleasantly surprised to be aware that the Transforming Power is inside any person and can make any person able to build peace.
Thanks to the different gatherings (brief go arounds that begin each session of the workshop and where each participant is encouraged to speak) in the Basic and the Advanced workshops, participants got opportunities to reflect the daily life of people in the Great Lakes region in general, and in Burundi and DR Congo in particular. In these two countries, the daily "Big Wind" that blows is violence. Many suggestions and lessons were drawn from all the topics discussed during the training and many attempts to contextualize the applying of 'I messages' have arisen. The mandala and the guides to Transforming Power have been appreciated as important tools for an AVP facilitator on one hand, and for any peace builder on the other hand.
The knowledge gained by participants and mainly the new facilitators is expected to be used as consciousness weapons to face the strong and terrifying guns of hatred, injustice, fear, corruption, contemptuousness, covetousness, war—in brief, of violence.
The expectations of the AVP above-named 'parents in Burundi', as well as those who contributed to the program, have clearly been felt by the participants: to have the Burundi as well as the DRC teams, probably likewise twins, root AVP in their countries, grow and join the great AVP family all over the world for peace building. This will provide more happiness and satisfaction to friends who are involved in peace and those who devoted to funding this program. The newborn will be proud of making these teachings wellknown and handy to all people, victims and agents of violence so that a common ground may be set to build a peaceful world. This is the fruit that a 5-week program expects to afford to communities for a behavior change and the wellbeing of and for all.
This announcement to all, we hope, demonstrates a search for identity and awareness of this new AVP family member; and is an expression of gratefulness to the voluntary commitment of our elders in America and Uganda. It is also a thankful motion to all of you who remain unknown and are reading this issue. Pray for the newborn, for his upbringing and spread this message. We wish to hear from you..
Editor's note: Charles mentions specific parts of AVP workshops—gatherings, "I messages" and a "Light and Lively", known as "Big Wind Blows". In AVP workshops, participants are encouraged to add a positive adjective to their given names. For more information on AVP please see: www.avpusa.org
Some Africans write their family/surnames in upper case letters and preceding their given names.