African Great Lakes  

Students from PIASS Rwanda Visit HROC – Innovation in Peacemaking Burundi

On September 18th, 2019, a group of students from Rwanda at Protestant Institute of Arts and Social sciences (PIASS) visited Healing and Rebuilding Our Country – HROC and Innovations in Peacemaking Burundi. This visit was part of a four-day study trip conducted by the students in Burundi. The students visited our organizations after MIPAREC in Gitega and THARS.

The students from PIASS represented the 3 faculties constituting their university: the faculty of Development Studies, the faculty of Education, and the faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. The students are members of a peace-building active club at PIASS named PIASS Peace Club. The participants were both male and female and they came from different nationalities: Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Nigeria and South Sudan. 10 males and 11 females were present at the workplace of the two organizations.

Besides the visitors from Rwanda, few youth persons, friends of the visit joined our sessions. They were part of two associations operating in Bujumbura: also, the permanent staffs of HROC and IPB were present. 

Description of the visit

The activity started at 9: 15 AM and was completed at 12:30 pm. Students arrived at the work place of HROC and IPB. Then, after a session of self-introduction of participants, the legal representative of IPB, Mr. Nahimana Elisée presented about the mission, vision, objectives and target group of IPB. In addition to that, he explained about activities which are conducted among university students.

After, the legal representative of HROC presented about HROC as an organization and HROC as an approach for trauma healing and trust building for development. He came back on the origin of HROC as an local approach developed by Burundian and Rwandan in order to cope with their context of post war period. Rev. Nahimana Elie explained that HROC, with its emphasis on the community healing is an approach which fit the African context of life in community. He deepened the concept of community by stressing that in Africa everything is done in the community even the violence. Therefore, it is crucial to handle the violence in the community. Furthermore, he explained the violent conflict context and showed the contribution of HROC in trying to break the cycle of violence which is obvious. In brief, due to different and many wars in the past, Burundians experience violence from physical to structural even to psychological without ignoring the Violence Based on Gender directed mainly to females due to the culture. Thus, they were wounded in their hearts and, also, they lost the trust and hope. Therefore, it is important to healing those wounded hearts and rebuilding the lost trust, the exact work of HROC.

The coordinator of HROC also pointed out some exercises used during HROC workshops and others organized sessions.
The third presentation was delivered by Students from PIASS who presented about their club’s structure and activities.

In addition, a session of questions and answers was undertaken. Interesting questions rose from students and comprehensive and interesting answers were given to them. However, all the questions were not answer due to time limitation.
Last, the president of PIASS Peace Club together with the Coordinator of HROC planted the friendship tree which will serve as a memorial symbol for the visit.

The legal representative of IPB during his presentation

Pastor Nahimana Elie explaining about HROC

One of the visitors presenting about PIASS Peace Club

Planting a tree of remembrance

The IPB-HROC coordinator and the PIASS Peace club coordinator planted a tree in front of the IPB-HROC compound to be as sign of a starting of a memorandum of collaboration since now. Those from PIASS peace club appreciated the fact that IPB&HROC is intervening in University campus to transforming future leaders that will be healed from their trauma and mastering the way of dealing with conflict nonviolently.


What Students Said…

My name is Mukantwari Denyse from Rwanda. At PIASS, I am part of the Department of peace and conflict studies. My impression for HROC (Healing and Rebuilding our country/communities) is one of the approaches that an organization called innovations in peacemaking Burundi (IPB) uses in order to achieve their mission of educating youth towards trauma healing, civic culture for peace, mutual tolerance, nonviolent conflict management and transformative leadership. My impression about HROC approach was very positive. I liked it so much because I found that it works in the context of Africa. As the explanation given by the head of that approach that in African context, our conflict and problems used to be in group or collective but for Europe and America problems used to be individual, for HROC approach it fits well with the African context. I liked also how it works in youth of different categories and I liked how this approach uses practical things like reconciliation of youth from different ethnic groups. This is possible because, may be, people from HROC serve as good examples of reconciliation. The other thing I liked about HROC approach is how it put much emphasize on healing through using different exercises to heal people. Those exercises are easy but they have a meaning and help people to get healed. The other good thing is how the organization called Innovations in Peace-making Burundi works to university youth which is a good thing because they are able to work on both level of the community. In general visiting HROC was a good experience for me because it was developed by our Africans, and it works in our own context. I can dare to call HROC our precious traditional conflict resolution mechanism. 

My name is Javan Mugenzi from Rwanda and it was tremendous to visit one organization which uses the HROC – Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities. It was the first time for me to hear that program, how really it works differently from other approaches of peacebuilding. As a representative of that organization started by explaining how HROC existed. Africa has experienced wars, ethnic conflicts and some countries got genocide.  When it comes to Great Lakes Regions, civil wars and other violence had got seat in those countries from independence up to recent years. Thus, the violence makes/made communities to be locked into a cycle of violence because of long hatred within their hearts which burst out into continuous violence. There are different methods and approaches which are being used to have peace among and between communities, but still those organizations used the approaches which were developed in other contexts different from the African one. This fact makes HROC special because it is an approach developed in Burundi and Rwanda to be used in the African communities. HROC touches and opens as well the hearts because it works with communities which experienced violence for long period of time and as those communities faced traumatic experiences, HROC helps them to rebuild the trust and confidence. The goal is to bring back a person to the normal way of living. 

Moreover HROC is special according to my experience during the study trip, because there are different exercises which are being used to connect people who are coming for a workshop and make them being able to release their hearts through those exercises. Those exercises help people to heal and recover from wounds someone felt many years ago because he or she had not get the floor to express herself or himself. It was my pleasure to see how HROC works in Burundi in bringing back the trust, within Burundian communities and heal the wounds they suffered many years ago, but brought up confidences in communities to feel that there are still big thing people can do and accomplish after the crises even though they might have been impacted by such different violence from different wars.