African Great Lakes 

HROC Basic workshop with Teachers and Student Volunteers in the Red Cross, Bujumbura, Burundi

Reported by Icishatse Elie Rodrigue, On behalf of IPB-HROC Burundi

The Red Cross Volunteer Team

IPB-HROC received a request from a secondary school in Nyakabiga zone to conduct a three day HROC basic workshop for representatives of teachers and a group of student volunteers in the Red Cross club on July 27 – 29, 2020. 9 teachers and 11 students were present, a total of 10 females and 10 males.

This was the first time students and teachers met together in a HROC workshop. It was a new experience in trauma healing and an amazing one.

Nyakabiga zone was negatively affected by the 2015 political crisis. Workshop facilitators were able to realize that many of the stories from the participants were about their fathers who were lost in a different crisis when they were soldiers from the National Army. Those losses caused complicated traumatic experiences as, often, the bodies of the deceased were not given back to their families for burial customs. In such circumstances, it is important to help the participants to release their anger and frustration.

As the workshop met with teachers and students together, it became a platform for them to discuss issues that are causes of trauma at their school. They also discussed good things that contribute to a harmonious atmosphere at the school. The outcome: an amazing and wonderful workshop.

Teachers and students had a deep discussion about issues that can cause trauma at their school. They suggested recommendations both to administrators of the school and to other students.

The participants also gained more knowledge about CoronaVirus and preventive measures such as hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing. This was done during the first 45 minutes of each day before the participants settled inside the workshop classroom. Also, the participants’ temperature was checked every day before the beginning of the workshop. Fortunately, everyone had a normal temperature all three days.

The participants learning how to wear masks,  how to wash hands, and why we checked their temperature after washing their hands and before entering the classroom settled for the workshop.

I lost both my parents when I was still very young. My father passed away when I was 4 years old and my mother took care of me until the time I was 12 years old. Then, she also passed away. After, I was taken care of by different people. Since that time, whenever I have issues such as a dispute with classmates, I remember my father and I feel bad in my emotions. I do request HROC to continue helping me and other youth who face the same problem like me to overcome the past and work for a bright future. 

I want to share with you a story that traumatized me. It is a story of a family who fled the war and came into our house. In 1993, in Bujumbura rural, a place named Butaganzwa, there was a civil war between the two ethnic groups: In the first place, the Hutu killed Tutsi, and after, the Tutsi came in our place located in Kinyovu/Rusaka in Mwaro province for revenge. There was a family of Hutu who asked for refuge in our house and the refuge was granted for a while. In the night, the family was asked to move again and go to a catholic parish at Bukwavu as a way of finding a sustainable refuge. Unfortunately, on the way, the family was arrested by the killers and they slaughtered the whole family including the mother who was pregnant. Only the first born got saved because she climbed a tree when the killers were still preparing to murder the family. At that time, I was not born yet but I was really affected by this story.  

I lost my father whom I loved very much. I was 5 years old and I had started my primary school. Whenever I heard other kids calling their fathers, I felt hurt in my heart. Also, whenever I enter into our home, I often cry hard as I see the photos of my father hanging on the wall. In the same way, whenever I miss something, I always remember my father because I know if he could be alive, I could not miss anything. My extended family has also been a burden to me as it tried many times to treat me and my family unjustly. I appreciate my mother who strived in raising 7 children including me. This workshop alleviates a little bit the consequences of my trauma and I have come to know the consequences on me. I’m glad to know about trauma and the way to overcome from it.