Burundi is in crisis and teeters dangerously close to the edge of a return to full-blown civil war. Our local partner, MIPAREC (offsite link), has worked since 1995 to bring people together across the divisions that threaten Burundi's future. Now, they have invited us to work with them to address the structural violence of corruption, shrinking political space and abuse of power to help build a sustainable peace.
In November 2015, Quakers in Britain launched a pilot project teaching members of MIPAREC's peace committee skills in active nonviolence. Trainers from our nonviolence programme in Kenya facilitated three weeks of intensive training. A Kenyan coach is now based in Burundi, supporting and accompanying the newly trained people as they begin community campaigns for change.
With the help of Quakers in Britain, MIPAREC has now started following a similar path as the programme in Kenya: training community volunteers in nonviolent campaigning and providing support to community-led campaign groups. Through this approach, our partners in Burundi have able to do invaluable work in solving local land disputes and confronting corruption.
How we work
- Our work is built on authentic partnership which springs from the Quaker understanding of equality.
- Our methodology is adapted from Quaker social change training to develop nonviolent campaigning skills specific to Kenya.
- We use responsive training and ongoing accompaniment to ensure the training takes root.
- We nurture community ownership and ensure that every campaign is locally driven.
- We go where the energy is and start small.
Our guiding principles
We believe that:
- Much direct violence is derived from underlying and often invisible social injustice. In order to build peace we must be willing to make visible and challenge structural and cultural violence.
- There is something good in every person, even those who are perpetuating social injustices. Effective nonviolent action seeks that good and calls it out.
- Nonviolence requires risk, self-discipline and a deep commitment. It must come from deep within. It will never work when it is imposed from without.
Listen to interviews with African peace activists, undertaken for This Light That Pushes Me, an photography exhibition and book created by Quaker Peace & Social Witness.