My brother’s off to make a difference in Burundi

by wonderfullyrich on April 20, 2008

My brother, who’ve I’ve only be back living with for 2 years now while we’ve both been in DC, is picking up to work in Burundi. He isn’t leaving till April 28th, but I guess it’s his turn to pack it up and go see the world. It sounds like it’s going to be just as interesting as my Antarctica exploration. He, though, is going to do what I feel is much more real work then what I was doing in Antarctica. Yes working on computers is a real job and we desperately need the information that scientists are seeking in Antarctica, but the cushy buffer the government brings when they build a town and bureaucracy sort of disconnects you from the ground truth.

Andrew on the other hand will be working with The African Great Lakes Initiative and he needs your help, or rather your money (designated it to Andrew Peterson). Initially Andrew will be working with the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) to help teach grantwriting skills, something he’s spent the last two years doing, to Burundians in the organization. He’s a great listener and teacher so I’m sure it won’t be long before he has them up to speed and I’m quite sure he’ll find other very useful things to contribute to the AGLI before he’s finished.

The AGLI is a very productive Quaker initiative that conducts reconciliation and trauma-healing workshops in Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By bringing together people across divisive social boundaries, the program works to break cycles of violence based on fear and prejudice, and teaches people to resolve their conflicts peacefully.

I’ll let the results speak for themselves:

“Before the workshop, no one could come to my home, even for salt. I hated them so much…I would not have changed without the workshop; I would have stayed angry…If I had not gone to the workshop, I would be like somebody useless…I would have stayed with anger and fear and a heart of revenge…”

– Mukagakwandi Amina, released prisoner

“I remember the trust walk when the person who killed my family was my partner. I was shaking before because my partner was a known killer and very strong. I thought he might throw me down, but he also had fear and he took me gently, kindly. I asked him ‘will you lead me in peace.’ After the trust walk with him, I felt it was not good to stay in my grief and had no fear against him.”

Nyirabyimana Venancie, war survivor

These are not the voices that believe in the fatalism of violent conflict and “atavistic hatreds.” These are voices of hope, but in order to expand this work AGLI needs greater publicity and financial support. Specifically he estimate his costs for the first year (airfare, food, housing, and immunizations) to be $8,100.

Please help Andrew bring more of these results to Burundi by contributing. African Great Lakes Initiative is a non-profit so contributions are tax-deductible. Alternatively you can send a check payable to Friends Peace Teams/AGLI at 1001 Park Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104. Please include Andrew Peterson in the memo line.

I’ve helped Andrew set up a blog which is aptly named Look forward to hearing about lots of interesting insights into a life in Burundi and what the ground truth of Burundi is like. Want his thoughts to come to you? Sign up for his blog-by-email updates. Don’t forget his RSS Feed for you RSS reader!

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