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Your location>Home>Publications>PeaceWays>Fall 2008

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Recovery in Mutaho, Burundi:
Goodness is Not a Debt

By Adrien Niyongabo

The Ryarunyinya community, in the Ruhororo Commune in Ngozi Province (northern Burundi), had been selected to host the next HROC workshops in Rohororo. Ryarunyina has been affected by the civil war that occurred in Burundi for more than 10 years from 1993. The Mubanga Internal Displaced People Camp, which is still holding Tutsi who do not feel safe enough to go back home, is an indicator that things are still difficult. Life seems to have started to become more enjoyable though the last agricultural season had not given folks a good harvest.

On our way to Nyarunyinya, the team has to pass by the other workshop sites to deliver needed materials. At this time of the year, we would not expect to have much rain. But, it did heavily rain on the day of our travel. Trying to connect with Rurengera (located in Mutaho), our small car slide and we got stuck in the mud. No injury, no damage! Hopeless while looking at the shape of the road we had taken, we felt miserable! I have never been in that part of the country and could not expect anybody that would know me.

We spent thirty minutes in the rain, trying to get the car out of the mud, when two men passed by. They asked us if we would pay them to come and help. That was too gloomy to hear from a Burundian. Normally, when a person is in a situation of need, the one who sees him or her just comes in and helps. At the end the helped person has to thank the helper. I remember several times, on my way from school I helped elderly mums to carry their fire wood or water buckets for long distance. I still value the special thanks I got from them; hugs, blessings, best wishes for future life, and from time to time a piece of cassava (manioc), probably from the provision for their evening meal. I know that “Goodness is not a debt” so I should not expect to be given similar treatment in return.

However, our time was going to come. Two guys on bicycles recognized me even though I was very wet and covered with mud. They stopped and greeted me warmly. They then parked their bikes and asked what they could do to help.

We told them that they should try to lift the car from the mud. They then convinced the other guys who had been asking us for pay for assistance. What a group! The children who were coming from school at that time joined in and helped pull the car out and in few minutes, we were out of the mud, happy and very excited.

So, who were the two men? No one else than two extraordinary men who attended one of our first HROC workshops in Mutaho. Once they saw me, they shouted, “Oh, it is Adrien, it is Adrien from HROC!” They told the other guys that they should not ask us for money to help pull out the car. Rather, they should thank us for having brought HROC to Mutaho.

It flashed in my mind that one of the two had had serious PTSD and was struggling to overcome it at the time of that HROC workshop. Now, he seemed very healthy, energetic, smiling. He had totally changed. What a wonderful time for me to see him again. I hugged some of the folks there and thanked them for the help and gave high fives to some of the school children. We were able to deliver the materials for the other workshop though it was very late in the night. We reached Ryarunyinya around 8 p.m. During our night driving, though shivering in my wet cloths, my heart was so warm for, after 5 years, people are stilling valuing what HROC did for them and wish others to go through the same experience.