Happy Independence Day…Burundi!
Written by Plant With Purpose on July 1, 2013 in General
By Madison Swoy
Today, July 1 marks the 51st year of Burundi’s independence from Belgium rule. In spite of great hardships, Burundi is proud to claim that they now have a presidential representative democratic republic. However, amongst the celebration, despair is still eminent. We must remain aware of the strife that has plagued the under-represented country throughout its history and pay homage to the torment endured by Burundi’s people.
Since 1993, after the assassination of Burundi’s first democratically elected president, more than 200,000 Burundian’s lives have been lost as a result of the ongoing civil war between the Hutu (who make up the majority) and the Tutsi (who are a minority group). Burundi has suffered from genocide for many years, yet the media largely ignores this East African country’s hardships. In fact most Americans are surprised to hear that the 8.6 million people living in Burundi share a similar history of ethnic conflict to that of Rwanda, and that the challenges are far from over.
These challenges are arising in Burundi as hundreds of thousands of refugees, who left during the pith of the fighting, are beginning to come back to their homeland of Burundi. Plant With Purpose recognizes the trials that Burundi is facing as a result of this influx of people, and the effect it is having on both Burundians and their land.
Poverty and the well being of Burundi’s citizens are deeply interconnected with the land (with which they gain their livelihood from), their economic opportunities, and their mercy for their neighbor. The United Nations envoy says, “Lifting a country out of poverty and healing the wounds of long-term and cyclical violence are immense challenges” (UN News Centre).
Plant With Purpose works to restore farmers’ relationships with their neighbors through peace and reconciliation trainings fostered by partnerships with local churches. These trainings transmit the message of hope and peace. The vicious cycle of poverty will perpetuate unless a holistic approach is taken to combat the strife. Plant With Purpose works to restore the environment, enlist greater economic opportunities, and provide outlets for spiritual renewal, all of which are key facets for combating poverty and must be addressed both individually and collectively.
You are invited to join us at Plant With Purpose as we welcome our country director of Burundi, Lazare Rukundwa Sebitereko*, on July 18 at Plant With Purpose’s San Diego office. Lazare will share insight on Burundi and Plant With Purpose’s work thereof over coffee and desserts.
This was a political demonstration with drumming and dancing which greeted the PWP team as they pulled up to our hotel in Rutana.
Saying good bye to the people of Musongeti.
*Lazare’s work experience includes being a program manager for Geneva Global; theology professor at the University of Pretoria, South Africa; executive secretary of Eben-Ezer Ministry International (DRC); and a human rights officer for Groupe Milima (DRC). Lazare holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology from Pan Africa Christian College (Kenya), a master’s degree in Christian ministries from Daystar University (Kenya), and a Ph.D. in Theology, specializing in justice, from University of Pretoria (South Africa).