African Great Lakes  

IPB-HROC Burundi May-June Report

Since 2016, IPB-HROC got a call to intervene within Bujumbura secondary schools due to the fact that the majority of its students had participated in 2015 election crisis demonstrations. Using HROC program in school it assisted more than 2,000 students in 2016. From that time until today IPB-HROC continues conducting HROC basic workshops, follow ups, and nonviolent conflict management workshops within the secondary schools in Bujumbura. Since last year, we came up with a new step of implementing a trauma healing club working today in partnership with other clubs such as the health club, environment club, the Red Cross club, English speaking club, and so on.

A trauma healing club is made out by students who finished at least a three days ‘basic HROC workshop. Members of a trauma healing club meet on a weekly basis for at least 2 hours. Three trauma healing clubs are functional in Musaga, Gihosha and Ciitoke secondary schools.

Three trauma healing clubs are functional today in Bujumbura secondary schools in two zones where the highest intensity of violence prevailed (Musaga and Mutakura) and one zone which received more refugees coming from those two zones as it remained calm during the demonstrations period.

The trauma healing club plays a role of maintaining the peaceful coexistence within the school and in its neighborhood environment and sensitizes the consequences of trauma within the school, in its surrounding and their own families and communities.

A cultural event was then organized by the Musaga club by visiting that of Gihosha and both invited that of Cibitoke. It was an opportunity given to each participant either individual or in group to express or interpret in their own way what they gained in the workshops of trauma healing or conflict management domain according to their God’s given talent. It’s the also way of responding to questions raised by schools’ authorities on how the limited groups trained could make a visible impact within the big and large community. This cultural event met together communities that have never met since the 2015 election crisis erupted in Bujumbura through public testimonies, traditional singing and dancing, dramas, sketches, poem as photos illustrates below.

Many testimonies on changes were shared and one of them is the following:

My father refused and left my mother in Burundi and went in Rwanda where he got married to another lady. Since I didn’t see my father in our home as other children has one, I used to ask a question to my mother concerning my father; she urged to not ask that question any more. I kept quiet under a heavy sorrow and unfortunately my mother also died when I was still little girl. I grew up without knowing who my father is until I finished the elementary school. After my mother’s death I found myself in an obligation to know who my father is and where he is. One member of my father’s family had mercy to me and told me that my father exists and lives in Rwanda. I begged to him the exactly address in Rwanda and how I could reach him. He made to me all needed arrangements to meet him. I succeed this and lived with my father thing I took with seriously. I felt I became a child as others since I saw my step mother as my real mother but in vain.

I was mistreated by my step mother at a stage I could not stayed with here looking the way I was beaten as a snake in her home. My father was unable to advocate for me to her wife.

I left Rwanda without saying to anybody and I came back in Burundi. Following the deception and lack of parental affection I met I heated so much my mother who refused to tell me who my father is, my father who didn’t intervene when my step mother mistreated me and my step mother for all bad things she did to me.

The headmaster of Gihosha secondary (first from right to left and that of Musaga in the middle and the representative of Cibitoke School) supported the healing and changes that students underlined in their testimonies and other presentations. They appreciated the fact that students themselves came up with this good idea of participating in reconciling themselves and the community in general without forgetting their teachers and supervisor each one in his/ her behavior leading to trauma. Both of them recognized that the peaceful coexistence prevailing in those schools are the result of the peace work conducted by IPB-HROC in those schools. They advocate for other schools in Bujumbura to benefit a HROC club dealing with trauma healing and peaceful coexistence to contribute along with the health club, environment protection club, and English club and so on.

Many students present in the cultural event had never left their own zone and be in the other or meet and share food or drink from both sides. They enjoyed to this happen and photos below illustrate these.