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SUMMER 1999: v4i2 INDEX

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SUMMER, 1999: Volume 4 Issue 2

Lessons Learned as the Way Opens for the African Great Lakes Initiative by David Zarembka

How does the way open?

When I bought the tickets for Carl Stauffer, Ute Caspers, and myself to fly from Nairobi to Bujumbura as part of the African Great Lake Initiative’s delegation, I was read a statement which said that, even though I had bought tickets, there was no guarantee that the airplane would fly. Since Burundi was at that time under international sanctions, there was only one flight per week and on arriving at the airport, we learned that the previous week the flight had not gone. There were many anxious people from the previous week trying to get any open seats on our flight. Fortunately our flight went and our delegation was able to proceed as David Niyonzima from Burundi Yearly Meeting had so well planned. So the first lesson on how the way opens is to be at the airport when the plane takes off.

There is a greater problem in the fact that not just one way opens (and then one decides to go down that path or not), but that in many cases, there are a myriad of ways open. For example, Burundi Yearly Meeting wants a teacher of English for three months at the Peace Primary School in Gitega, a doctor for three or more months at the Kibimba Hospital, resources to open the Kibimba Secondary School and an orphanage in Kwibuka, support for a trauma center and a theological school they are opening in Bujumbura, $500 for laminated poster illustrations for the Peace and Reconciliation Ministry Under the Cross, small kits for students from the Peace Primary School to take to children in displaced persons’ camps and orphanages, and funds for tile roofs to put on homes destroyed by fighting and being rebuilt by members of Musawa Friends Church. And this is only a partial list for Burundi. Friends. Others in Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda have long lists of needs which we could meet if there were not so many paths already open taking us hither and yon.

When the way does open, as it has with the Kamenge Reconciliation and Reconstruction Project, one needs to stay on the path and not go back even if funding is not assured, if problems arise, if dangers are predicted, and others have their attention on Kosov@. Yet there is no guarantee that the path will take the African Great Lakes Initiative to its goals. One has to risk stumbling and even breaking a leg.

Another lesson is that frequently the path is full of brush and not clear. The Consultative Group of the African Great Lakes Initiative is recommending that the AGLI try to place a team of four in Burundi to develop a trauma center and a team of two in Uganda to help with supporting Ugandan Quakers, AVP-Uganda, and other nonviolent groups in that country. But at this time we are not clear what this exactly means and how we will go down that path, clearing the brush as we go. Will we stay on the path or get lost in the bush?

But most importantly one must have the faith that the way will open. If you keep reading the Peace Team News, you will learn how the African Great Lakes Initiative is discerning its way.

For related earlier articles see:
Report on African Great Lakes Initiative, PTNv3i2
Peacemaking in the African Great Lakes Region, PTNv3i3
Quaker Peacemaking in a War Zone, PTNv4i1
Knocking Horns: Peace and Conflict in Burundi, PTNv4i1i

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