During the crisis, many people have experienced a lot of unusual, shocking, painful, and unimaginable events. They are still wounded, broken and despairing. For many, restoring peace seems to be a dream that will never come true. They are suffering effects of post traumatic stress disorders which can cause many to nurture the spirit of vengeance and violence.
On an everyday basis, a lot of people in Burundi need healing from the traumatic experiences they have encountered. Both children and adults say that they experience sleep disturbances, inability to concentrate, angry outbursts, and startled responses. While many have kept bad memories about their neighbors, others have kept bad memories about themselves, especially when they think about what they should have done and did not do in past situations.
Adrian Bishop, a member of the AGLI Kamenge Reconciliation and Reconstruction Project in the summer of 1999, states, "The need for [the Center] requires little imagination. While we were in Burundi, several of our [Burundian] team spoke of recurring dreams in which they are being hunted down to be killed. There are many sleepless nights. No family is untouched by the violence."
Faced with this sad situation, Burundi Yearly Meeting of Friends with the help of the Friends Peace Teams Projects African Great Lakes Initiative, proposes the Burundi Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Center. The Center will help mobilize people to join together to contribute to the national healing of Burundi. It is only through a long and difficult healing process that Burundi will be able to ask forgiveness in order to allow conflicting communities to reinstate good, peaceful relationships.
Subsequently for the next three month period, the four will travel to South Africa where the Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation and the Witgespruit Fellowship Centre will facilitate a training program in trauma healing and reconciliation. This will include one month of training followed by two months of practical work in South Africa. The trainers from CSVR plan to follow up with at least three visits to Burundi after Burundi Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Center (BTHARC) is started.
Location of Center
While the Center will have a fixed office, various sites will be used by the team in Bujumbura, Gitega, Kibimba, and perhaps elsewhere including the Congo and Rwanda as the Center develops and as way opens.
While initially the focus of the Center will be with Burundian Friends, once the Center is established, outreach will occur both to Friends in surrounding countries and to other religious and NGO organizations within Burundi.
Responsibility for Center
The ultimate responsibility for the Center will be with Burundi Yearly Meeting of Friends. It will be supervised by the Executive Committee of Burundi Yearly Meeting which consists of the Clerk, the Legal Representative, the Yearly Meeting Project Coordinator, and one representative each from the four Quarterly Meetings. A Consultative Committee of individuals interested in and knowledgeable about trauma healing and reconciliation and conditions in Burundi will advise the Centers staff on the day-to-day nature of their work.
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