CFSC has long standing partnerships building peace at the grassroots level in the Africa Great Lakes region. In the late 1990’s, in an extremely tense political environment, the 6,000 members of the Friends Church in Burundi, and 2,000 members in Rwanda, asked their leaders to work with Friends worldwide to find ways to break the cycle of violence. Connections began to develop around the concept of trauma healing.
One of the directions taken, supported by African Great Lakes Initiative of Friends Peace Teams (AGLI) was to develop a program modeled after Alternatives to Violence (AVP), with a focus on healing trauma. The result is Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC). CFSC partners with AGLI in support of this work.
CFSC and AGLI have jointly sponsored education of Canadians about the issues peacebuilding. For example, Florence Ntakarutimana, a Burundian Friend working for AGLI has toured Canada speaking about this work. Julie Berry, a Canadian Friend who heard Florence on her speaking tour, summed it up this way:
We heard about the healing work she does with people who were either victims or perpetrators of brutal killings during the Rwandan genocide. It was hard to comprehend the horror her friends, family and neighbours had gone through, but it was even more difficult to accept that the two sides could come together in true forgiveness and reconciliation. Truly, the work that Florence does, and the vision and dedication of all the people who make up HROC, are reasons to rejoice. What an inspiration!
CFSC is in close touch with Friends in the Great Lakes region, and helps with their initiatives “as way opens”. Historically, our support has often been organized in partnership with one of these three Quaker partners:
- African Great Lakes Initiative
- American Friends Service Committee
- Change Agents for Peace International.
There is a long Quaker history of “workcamps”. Historian Robert O. Byrd writes in Quaker Ways in Foreign Policy,
The idea appears to have been originated by Pierre Ceresole, a Swiss who later joined the Society of Friends. Having observed the reconstruction work of the Friends’ units in France during World War I, Ceresole felt that it would be a step towards peace if young people from many countries had an opportunity to know each other through the comradeship of shared constructive, voluntary service. Eventually Ceresole founded the Service Civile Internationale, which , in turn, inspired the development of the American Friends Service Committee’s work-camp programme in the United States, beginning in 1934.
AGLI offers workcamps each year which give internationals the chance to participate in projects led by local Africans with the purpose of building understanding and gaining first hand knowledge and experience of peacebuilding activities like HROC in the various countries where AGLI works. Feel free to contact us for more information. Please note that CFSC does not run these workcamps and as such is unable to accept responsibility for security risks if you choose to volunteer.
Learn more about service opportunities in Canada and internationally.
Find peace resources and learn more about CFSC’s thinking and actions around peacebuilding.