Restoration Burundi targets schools and communities to impact Burundian society with the aim of consolidating quality leadership and economic development for all levels across society. Recently, they have created a program for schools called ‘My Beloved Nation’ which focuses on themes of good governance, fighting against corruption, human rights and leadership. They also teach that the life of a human being is sacred. The initiative is given the nickname ‘peace club’ and has been used in High Schools and Universities. Ishimwe Colombe Organ, a student of St Mark’s High School who benefitted from this program, shares her thoughts:
“Before I got engaged in the Peace Club, I did not know who a leader was. I thought leadership was solely meant for presidents of countries or top influencing authorities while ignoring that even I as a student have right to become a leader. Moreover, I did not know how to settle conflicts. I considered myself too little a girl to be involved in leadership. Thus, this Peace Club has greatly helped to raise my awareness in this respect.”
Empowered with the realisation that leadership can be shown in any area of life, Ishimwe has been inspired to carry these lessons into her own circumstances; “there are many delegates within my school and many conflicts in our neighbourhood. So, the Peace Club has helped me to solve such conflicts through the sharing of what I have learned at school…and I help students to get reconciled thanks to the training I got.”
The non-violence movement is gaining strength throughout Burundi, it’s necessity not just in response to the conflict of 1993-2005. Even as recently as 2015, in response to the presidential crisis, GLO partners were key figures in standing for peace amongst the chaos. Teaching the next generation a better way is a priority of many key leaders in Burundi.
Ishimwe recounts: “I have understood that conflicts are not always resolved through violence. I have learned peaceful ways of settling conflicts namely, reconciliation, dialogue, listening. And thanks to this experience, I have become a peace model for my school colleagues. Now disputes have ceased at school. In case of any conflict broken out, students sit together to resolve it and get reconciled peacefully.”
What an encouraging sign for the future of the nation! Today, they gather around the table to resolve a playground quarrel, in future the stakes may be much greater for these future business owners and leaders, but the principle remains the same.
“In short, I have learned many things through the Peace Club and it has greatly shaped my way of life.”
Give thanks for the work of Restoration Burundi! Pray that this program may be widely spread across the nation and that many more girls and boys like Ishimwe would be similarly impacted.