Gratien Nibigira is the founder of Restoration Burundi (Restobu). He was born in 1989. His father was killed in the war in 1993, and this led to a miserable childhood being raised in a displacement camp. He managed to get an education although he did drop out for a whole year because of lack of money for the school fees.
He ended up being a child-soldier for four years. But towards the end of high school, as he was praying, he sensed God telling him to leave the countryside, move to the capital, and a family there would provide him with lodging as he gave himself to the Lord’s work. The Lord indeed had gone ahead of him. They weren’t easy days, but he led his school Christian Union, got involved with GLO partners Scripture Union and Harvest Initiatives, and grew in maturity and faith.
It was on a Harvest Initiatives outreach in the bush that he came across a destitute 75-year-old widow, victim of both the 1972 and 1993 crises. Both her husband and all her children had been killed, and she lived in a straw hut without any help from anyone. Through engaging with her, Gratien was compelled to act. The Lord spoke to him clearly : “Gratien, rise up, work and pray for national reconciliation, for forgiveness and social justice so that such miserable scenarios become a thing of the past!” That is how Restoration Burundi came into being.
In 2015, a new political crisis erupted, in which Restobu were already prepared to engage, so they were amongst the first groups to organise conferences on peace and non-violence in secondary schools, universities, local communities and amongst young impressionable political activists. Restobu currently works in a selected number of strategic schools, and amongst repatriated refugees in Makamba, Cibitoke and Kirundo.