Archive | May, 2013

Heal the youth and heal a nation.

17 May

Dear readers,

Today I write to you from a pleasantly cold Mutaho. A constituency in the province of Gitega and right at the heart Burundi, Mutaho was one of the districts selected for the HROC in Schools project.

 Funded by the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI), this project’s objective is to find means of incorporating concepts of trauma healing and reconciliation, in schools teaching methods.

Schools, you see, have often been the back drop of bloodshed, throughout Burundi’s conflict-ridden history.

Countless teachers and students witnessed, or at least were made aware, of colleagues and fellow pupils being massacred, in the very same environment which used to be a place of learning, laughter and friendship.

With life being what it is, teachers and pupils usually returned to the scenes of what must have been some of their most horrific memories, and got on with things.

The impact on these teachers and pupils is unimaginable.

HROC recognises that there has been considerable unprocessed trauma, as a result this violence. It is also conscious, that this trauma has undoubtedly affected the conduct of teachers towards their pupils and vice versa. This being especially so due to the fact, that children spend a significant amount of time at school. HROC acknowledges additionally, that such ordeal would have had an inevitable ripple effect, on those closest to this group and throughout communities. HROC equally believes that healing a nation, cannot occur unless its youth is able to heal as well. 

So, through this project HROC is hoping that pupils, teachers as well as parents, will all benefit from trauma healing and reconciliation notions.

HROC launched this project in primary schools in Mutaho, Kabuguzo and Magarama, in April this year.  These three pilot schools will set the course of this program as it matures, and hopefully pave the way for expansion in the wider region.

Fifteen teachers, five from each school, took part in HROC basic workshops.

This was followed by a seminar, to discuss ways of conveying these HROC concepts to pupils and also involve their parents somehow.

All the schools concluded, that using the slot allocated to the human civic education class, would be most suitable for teaching children, about ideals of healing and reconciliation.

The purpose of my journey to Mutaho, along with my colleague Léandre, has been to hold further talks with the headmaster and teachers of theEcole Primaire de Mutaho I, as to the implementation of this project.

Peace be with you all.

 

Ed

 

 Image

HROC in Schools Teachers Seminar April 2013.

 

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Keeping in touch with each other. It’s what friends do.

14 May

Yesterday I met Lisa – who is back from Burundi – at Friends House and Chris from QCEA for lunch at Peace House (5 Caledonian Road, where I work). It was really nice to catch up with both of them – discussing our placements, and what we’ve been up to in our free time.

At the end of April Rhiannon and I visited Ellie and Haifa in Geneva for a long weekend. It was great. By now Haifa and Ellie are basically locals – they showed us the Quaker UN Office where they work, the main UN buildings (via the botanical gardens), the old town, and we had time to pop over the border and go up the mountain (in a cable car), where we walked in the mist (we got occasional glimpses down to the city and the lake though). There was a lot of laughter, and nice tea and dinners (one accompanied with an Eddie Izzard DVD, which we then quoted a lot the next day) in their adjacent flats.

Us Peaceworkers this year are not just a group of young people doing the same great placement scheme. We get on really well; we’re friends. Some of us have spent more time together than others. As Ellie and Rhiannon mentioned in their recent posts, the five of us UK and Geneva-based Peaceworkers were together at the QPSW Spring Conference in early April, and a few weeks before we were in Brussels for the halfway-through-the-Peaceworker-year seminar, where we were joined by the three Programme Assistants at the Quaker Council for European Affairs, Bethany, Imogen, and Chris. I’ve seen Rhiannon and Alissa numerous times, both for Peaceworker-related meetings, at Young Friends General Meeting, and just to hang out. And of course people have met up without me too!

We’ve also all exchanged a lot of emails, which has been especially important for keeping in touch with Edith and Lisa in Burundi. And as Rhiannon’s mentioned, we managed to speak to and see Edith on Skype when we were in Brussels. Even a few postcards and letters have found their way across seas and borders.

I’m grateful to have such a great group of people as my fellow-Peaceworkers. Here’s to long-lasting friendships.

Owen

(photos of Geneva to follow shortly)

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