Plant With Purpose Partners for Reconciliation

Written by Plant With Purpose on February 9, 2011 in General

February 9, 2011
By Dahlia Guajardo

Reconciliation in BurundiSince protestors took to the streets in Egypt on January 25th, I have watched the news, transfixed and anxious. Televisions and computer screens flash images of protestors hurling rocks or hoisting signs into the air while holding up makeshift shields as tanks roll past wounded men and women lining the walls of barricades.

Egyptians are calling for an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, a dictatorship that has lasted more than thirty years. In one image a young man makes a peace sign as red lines of blood cover his forehead and cheeks. Though Mubarak has maintained that he will not run for reelection in September, he has refused to respond to the demand of protestors that he leave immediately. While many hope that the political transition in Egypt will occur peacefully, there is concern about who will take control if Mubarak does step down and the potential instability that might follow attempts to restructure a government accustomed to authoritarian rule.

One of President Mubarak’s main arguments for refusing to resign is that doing so would result in a power vacuum that Egypt’s banned Islamist political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, will readily occupy. From the perspective of some protestors, the conflict has brought Muslims and Christians together in their common outcry and efforts to end the dictatorship’s oppressive rule. Members of the Coptic Church, one of Egypt’s oldest Christian traditions, worry that a new leader could mean increased persecution. What the result of tensions caused by government corruption and religious and political strife will be is uncertain.

As I watch the protests unfold through the visual and intellectual angles of photographers and journalists, it encourages me to know that Plant With Purpose’s outlook is one of genuine concern for reconciliation. The Central African nation of Burundi is beginning to see the benefits of a return to political stability following the conclusion of a forty year civil war sparked by tensions between rival ethnic groups. Refugees that left during the fighting are beginning to return to their homes, introducing the possibility of renewed conflict.

To address this issue, Plant With Purpose partners with Burundian farmers by providing peace and reconciliation training. Healthy relationships are as important as the health of the environment and the economy, all of which are interconnected. Such interconnection comes to light in Egyptian protestors’ complaints about the nation’s stagnate economy, a situation that can be linked to the pressure that population growth has put on available resources. Arable land is limited to regions surrounding the Nile, while the majority of the nation is desert.       

Plant With Purpose sees the strain that people put on their environment, the livelihood of the economy, and tension between individuals and groups as interconnected issues. Christ’s redemptive grace is a model for reconciliation with God, with each other, and with our environment. As Plant With Purpose director, Scott Sabin writes in Tending To Eden, “resolution lies in spiritual transformation. Repentance, forgiveness, and a radical change of heart are necessary” (62).

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