Note: I've been receiving regular updates on Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo from David Zarembka, Coordinator of AGLI of the Friends Peace Teams, for the past few weeks. They are insightful, sensitive and heart-breaking. I invited David to write a reflective post about the situation there, and he sent me this, powerful words to consider carefully, and to remember that we are connected via our Quaker brothers and sisters to the situation there.
“Let them remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Let them be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power, and that we can do — every one — our share to redeem the world despite all [the] absurdities and all the frustrations and all [the] disappointments. And above all, remember that the meaning of life is to live life as if it were a work of art.” – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
David Niyonzima on the role his faith plays in his work
Listen to David Niyonzima, founder and director of the Trauma Healing and Reconconiliation Services (THARS) in Burundi, on how his faith influences his peace work. David leads workshops on trauma healing and providing community spaces for peaceful dialogue and reconciliation.
This audio is an excerpt from a longer interview with David Niyonzima, conducted by Friends Liaison Lucy Duncan and Friends Relations Fellow, Madeline Schaefer. As well as being the director of THARS, David is also a Quaker pastor and member of Burundi Yearly Meeting.
On a beautiful morning in 1993, Burundian David Niyonzima found himself caught in the middle of a violent ethnic conflict. Although he escaped unharmed, 25 people, including eight of his students at a local Quaker pastoral training school, were shot and killed. David spent the next few years fearing for his life and the safety of his family. But after a transformational experience of learning to forgive his attackers, David became committed to working for peace in his war-torn country.
Check out these documents from the AFSC archives on the history of the organization's relationship with Quakers. The relationship has always been a bit rocky, but scattered throughout these documents are a consistent, genuine spirit of reconciliation and love.
The below statement was issued by Britain Yearly Meeting on Nov. 18, 2012 in response to the violence in Gaza. Other Quaker organizations are invited to add their names to the statement and so far AFSC, QUNO, QCEA, New York Yearly Meeting and the Canadian Friends Service Committee have signed on.
Patricia Sellick, AFSC Regional Director for the Middle East, shares her experience working with AFSC’s Gaza team and the young people with whom they work. She wrote this on November 18, 2012. - Lucy
My first visit to the AFSC Gaza team, after taking up the position of Regional Director for the Middle East for AFSC, was in 2010. There are three overriding impressions that remain with me: I was visiting a people under siege; I was visiting a people who had just suffered a war; and I was visiting a people who were resilient to the core.
This letter was sent to Congress on October 5, 2012, from church leaders including Shan Cretin, AFSC's general secretary, as a call to make U.S. military aid to Israel conditional on Israel's "compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies” regarding human rights.
Thanks to Andrew Tomlinson, Director of QUNO-NY, Olivia Ensign, QUNO Program Assistant, and Theresa Kirby for assistance composing this post.
Security was tight in New York City as delegates gathered for the high-level meetings that marked the opening of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly in late September. There were snipers on the roof of the UN buildings, and black limousines with flashing lights crowded the streets nearby as they lined up to get through the NYPD roadblocks.
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.