Planting Peace in Burundi

Written by Plant With Purpose on September 20, 2012 in General

By Jennifer Heffel

“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.” — Albert Einstein

By simply stepping outside of a busy office and into the shade of nearby plum tree, I am reminded of just how replenishing the peace of God, shalom, can be to the human soul. 

Tomorrow, September 21, is the International Day of Peace. Implemented by the United Nations in 1982, it is been a day for the world to intentionally reflect on peace over the past 30 years.   

Burundi, a small country sandwiched betweenTanzania and Rwanda, has struggled for peace since the 60s, and it has only been in the last few years that peace has started to take hold. The last civil war lasted about 12 years, sparked by the mass killings of Tutsis by Hutus in the early 90s (find a history of Burundi here).

In spite of being ravaged by genocide, civil war, and poverty, Burundi is starting to see the effects of peace and reconciliation. Plant With Purpose is facilitating farmer associations that bring together Tutsis and Hutus, as well as returning exiles and those who stayed during the war. In this way, Plant With Purpose is striving toward planting peace while empowering farmers to cultivate crops and provide for their families. 

Leoni—a former refugee and previous memberof an insurgent group—is finding healing during this newfound peace. Her life tells a story of restoration in Burundi which has brought with it dignity, and earned respect. She returned landless and with no prospects, but with a skill to offer. While a refugee, Leoni had learned to make fuel-efficient stoves (using less wood and producing less smoke). 

Leoni is now teaching Plant With Purpose community groups—groups consisting of both Tutsis and Hutus—about these stoves. Personally, she is bringing in an income, expanding her business, and establishing friendships. 

As farmers tend to their fields, and businesses are established—Tutsis alongside Hutus, those returning and those who stayed—communities are growing together with the healing hope of peace.

So at noon tomorrow, along with millions worldwide, take a moment to pray for peace, or more specifically, shalom, and for rural farmers in Burundi and around the world. 

 At minute 7, hear from Plant With Purpose Burundi’s Country Director, Lazare Sebiterereko as he shares Leoni’s story.

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