Working with others to make a difference

After many years of violent conflict, the men and women in Burundi are moving forward with their lives.

Still, the country’s social fabric was torn apart, livelihoods have been reduced to survival, and mistrust that cropped up among citizens and lead to widespread fear are barriers to peace and prosperity.

Many members of Burundi’s communities cannot afford their basic needs.

They witnessed killings of their family members, which are still lingering in their minds.

These are important concerns for peacemakers.

Conflict prevention and peace-building efforts will be unsuccessful as long as hunger, a lack of basic social services, and a lack of employment opportunities persist.

AFSC with its national partner organizations has thus been supporting communities, focusing on the social and economic reintegration and trauma healing of people affected by war. We aim to restore human dignity and hope.

Our partners include Evangelical Fraternity of Christ in Africa in Burundi (French acronym: FECABU) and Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC).

On October 17, 2013, we jointly launched a project called PRESERDEC, a French acronym for “Project on the Socio-economic reintegration of Returnees, IDPs and, Ex-Combatants” in Nyanza-Lac Council in Makamba Province to assist the returnees, internally displaced persons, and ex-combatants with reintegrating into their communities.

Makamba is among the provinces that received a high number of war-affected persons returning from Tanzania.

In Burundi, the majority of the population is young, and some of these young people have not had educational or employment opportunities because of the past crisis.

We are therefore hoping to reach over 200 young men and women for life-skills training and self-employment in iron welding, hairdressing salons, and tailoring.

Four hundred and fifty elderly men and women will be encouraged to attend adult learning to raise their literacy rate in addition to strengthening social cohesion, improved income, and trauma healing. An estimated 1,400 adults will improve their family’s income.

The launching exercise for this project was an opportunity for AFSC to appraise the synergies and complementarities that exist among the international organizations operating in that part of the country and the government.

Good coordination among partners minimizes duplication of efforts and optimizes the judicious use of each organization’s limited resources to obtain a greater impact. It gives an opportunity for these partners to complement one another better. 

The project participants reflected on the pilot project, during which the lives of about 750 men and women with 45 youth were changed. Today, they can feed their children, and offer them good education. They are valued members of their communities and take responsibilities in managing their community affairs.

We value partnership and coordinate our efforts with other peace organizations.

AFSC cannot do everything alone, as the needs are enormous. The communities still have huge challenges ahead. It requires collaborative effort to improve stability, security, and livelihoods. We continue to work with communities and like-minded organizations to make a difference.