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AGLI Updates

Andrew Peterson, a graduate of Haverford College, and most recently the Grants Manager for Friends Committee on National Legislation, arrived in Burundi on May 10th. He will work there as an AGLI fvolunteer or one or more years. His work includes enabling HROC and Friends Women’s Association staff to write, secure, and implement grants. Read about his day to day experiences at

In February, HROC-North Kivu did six basic workshops, three in the town of Goma and three in an internally displaced camp called, Bulengo. Here are a few testimonies from those workshops:

In our family, we have a relative who lost all her children in the war. As a result, she has become sort of crazy. Due to her behaviors no one wants to live with her. Now that I have gained some knowledge, I understand that she is traumatized, not crazy as we thought. I am going to approach her and talk to the rest of the family that we should not reject her but rather love her.

I take care of 2 orphans and am very harsh with them due to their behaviors. I feel bad that I have been mistreating them, thinking that they are disobedient or giving me a hard time because I am not their biological father. Through these teachings, I have known that they are traumatized and I am going to give them love and get closer and help in a way that I can.

Being here in the camp is painful. When i have to queue for a small portion of food and yet I used to produce for the market is more painful. But I have gained some hope, in life there is a time to get and loose. I pray and hope that will be able to go back home though things will never be the same again, I will try to pick up rather than mourning.

I was please to see that our facilitators are from different ethnic groups. It shows unity and cooperation and that’s what is needed for this country to go forward.
Zawadi Nikuze, HROC Coordinator

Icyizere—Hope: During this time of remembering the victims of the 1994 genocide the film Icyizere was been shown in different cinema centers and many times on Rwandan television. The film chronicles a HROC workshop in Rwanda, It was shot last July and August by Patrick Mureithi of Springfield, MO. The film which is based on Rwandan culture and focuses on the inner power of healing and peace building of Rwandans has helped people to believe that there is a hope, that Rwanda can become again a peaceful society where there is no hatred, fear, and mistrust between Rwandans. Even though the film is not yet entirely completed, Icyizere will be a very important tool for HROC; we will be using it to achieve our goals of healing and reconciliation in Rwanda and other countries that have had similar experiences. [DZ--An English subtitled version is expected in the future.]
Theoneste Bizimana, HROC Coordinator

AVP: In Kidaho, in northern Rwanda right under one of the volcanoes where the gorillas live, local government officials asked if AVP could deal with 30 families which had been in violent conflict, including three where a member had killed other members of the family. Three AVP workshops took place in January
While the seminars took place, some of those who were expected to attend didn’t come and we feared whether anyone would attend. The families who had been invited were afraid that they would be arrested and put in jail. They had conflicts between them. The local government leaders tried to reconcile them, but they refused. They thought that anytime they could be arrested. Finally 58 of them came and were trained. There has been a great change of mind now because men and women forgave one another and all of them asked for forgiveness from the government local leaders.

In eastern Rwanda, AVP is also doing a series of 36 workshops in 6 resettlement camps. Tanzania, Rwanda’s neighbor to the east, is in the process of expelling all the Rwandan refugees (Tutsi) who had come either in the early clashes starting in 1959 or those (Hutu) who fled during the genocide in 1994. The Rwandan Government was resettling these returnees together regardless of ethnic classification, causing great tension in these new settlements.

After attending our seminars about the transforming power and the peace tree [two lessons covered in the basic AVP workshop], they discovered that within them is a transforming power. The decided to transform the violence tree into the peace tree. They forgave one another, testifying that there is no cause of conflict between them except the wrong history. They decided to live together and have fellowship in every activity. They replaced the above conflicts with brotherhood and friendship. They decided to work together to develop their potential. All the participants in the seminars asked us to continue to do so because they know that these seminars helped them get out of a very bad situation of hatred and misconception and go to a nice situation of love and reconciliation.
Innocent Rwabuhihi, AVP-Coordinator

Bududa Vocational Institute (BVI): An old Ugandan man came to our school a few weeks ago. He was barefoot, wore an old beat up hat and had a large, appreciative smile on his face. In his hands he was clutching a 5,000 Uganda shilling ($3.00) note wrapped in bunch of small coins. He had come to put some money up towards his daughter’s tuition as a student for the nursery school program at Bududa Vocational Institute.

After problems with management in the first location, Bududa Vocational Institute was re-opened on February 4th of this year. The new location in the small trading center of Konokoyi was chosen in January and, after a month of hard work by several volunteers from the United States including Barbara Wybar and two dozen members of the community, the school was renovated and ready by the beginning of the new term. The school opened with 26 students in three fields: nursery school teacher training, tailoring, and brick laying and concrete practice. The school hired qualified, diploma-holding teachers from some of the best vocational schools in Uganda.

The purpose of the school, encompassed in the motto, “Skills for Jobs” is to give young men and women who were not able to finish secondary school the opportunity to learn a trade that they can use to make a living. Over the course of our first term we have grown to 38 students, 29 of which are women. We want to give our students an opportunity for a better future. BVI aims to create positive and active members of the community that can serve as role models to their children and neighbors. To achieve this goal, the school is also offering classes on health, hygiene, life-skills, English, science and math.

Children of Peace: The second project that AGLI is supporting in Bududa is the Children of Peace, a sponsored orphans’ program. The principle aim of the Children of Peace is to show these children that though they have lost a parent, they are still cared for. We want these students to continue in school and succeed in their lives. Our mission is to create an environment where being an orphan no longer means that the child is vulnerable.

The Saturday program is aimed to give children extra schooling, playtime, and healthcare to give them an opportunity to improve their future. There are almost 200 primary and secondary school aged children enrolled in the program with sponsors from the United States and Canada. Each Saturday they are divided by class and given extra tutoring in the Ugandan curriculum. They also get an hour of playtime and music lessons by a wonderful local musician. For most of the students this is the most playtime they get in the week as it is not emphasized in schools or in the home.

The free healthcare offered to the students is a large part of the day. There have been a series of health volunteers and nurses that have been helping the students. Last week a barefoot, eight year old boy, Ivan came limping to the school. Almost all the local people go barefoot in Bududa. Ivan had so many jiggers (sand fleas) in his feet that it was painful to walk. The Canadian nurses that were assisting that day supervised a secondary school student take out the jiggers with a needle, after having scrubbed and soaked his feet in salt water. The entire process took two hours because of the sheer number of jiggers in his feet. The only part of the process that made him cry was when the nurses had to apply hydrogen peroxide to his feet to disinfect the wounds. They then wrapped his feet, but he had no shoes to walk home in. Barbara lent the child her Tevas and sent him to the local shops with a teacher to buy new shoes. Though the process was long and painful, the boy was ecstatic and the care he received was better and more prompt than what he would have received at the local health center or hospital.

If you would like to sponsor a child, please contact Barbara Wybar at and Karen Vaccaro at for details..
Lisandro Torre, US Peace Corps volunteer in Bududa

QUNO: The Quaker United Nations Office was delighted to host two visitors from the African Great Lakes Initiative in March of 2008. Adrien Niyongabo spoke to representatives of United Nations (UN) agencies and the UN Peacebuilding Commission about the work of the Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities Program, and engaged in a rich discussion about post-conflict justice and reconciliation in Burundi. He also discussed with non-governmental organizations reconciliation programs in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. David Zarembka offered a nuanced and thoughtful account of the situation in Kenya, following recent violence, to non-governmental organization officials. Both David and Adrien also spoke to members of the New York Quaker community about the work of AGLI. These speakers provided very valuable first-hand perspectives on issues before the UN and of interest to the Quaker community
Gabriel Morden-Snipper, Quaker United Nations Office