The Association for Conflict Resolution
of Greater New York
The CUNY Dispute Resolution Consortium
at John Jay College
THURSDAY, JUNE 7, 2012
Monthly NYC-DR Roundtable Breakfast
Adrien Niyongabo, Coordinator
Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC)
Adrien Niyongabo, who has dealt with unthinkable, cataclysmic events in his country, will speak to us of his experiences with the organization, Healing and Restoring Our Communities in Burundi (HROC).
Hundreds of Burundis fled their country for Tanzania in 1972 and recently were forced to return to Burundi when Tanzania closed its refugee camps. As most of them, descendants of refugees and now young adults, had never seen Burundi, they had no home to go to. The Burundi government set up "Integrated Peace Villages" to accommodate these returning citizens as well as homeless ex-combatants and the internally displaced. Most residents have experienced or witnessed traumatic events and have faced unparalleled difficulties. Some show clear trauma symptoms: regular insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, intense
anger and hopelessness. Others face situations that bring back their past experiences but have no tools with which to deal with the consequences. They react by repressing their emotions, acting out in anger or isolating themselves. These personal experiences of trauma also contribute to an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion between the members of the Integrated Peace Villages and between those relocated to the villages and the host community.
Emerging from a long civil war, Burundi communities continue to be divided along ethnic (Hutu vs Tutsi) lines and residents face grinding poverty. Reintegration into already divided communities has been extraordinarily difficult for returning refugees.
Elections were held in 2010 and have been followed by ongoing political uncertainty and increasing incidents of violence and robbery throughout the country.
Committed to working toward the consolidation of peace in Burundian communities, HROC-Burundi organized Democracy and Peace Groups before the Elections in nine communities that were hard hit by the civil war.
Together with Peace and Democracy groups, HROC Burundi continues to report and respond to the development of conflicts, to contribute toward increased integration and cohesiveness in their communities, to continue the process of healing among participants, and to work toward self-sustainability.
Adrien Niyongabo is a Quaker from the Great Lakes Region of Africa. He is an Elder in his Meeting and a Founder and the Coordinator of the Quaker-sponsored Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities in Burundi (HROC-Burundi). . “My devotion to HROC work resides on the fact that HROC helps people, especially those who have been opposed in conflicts, to learn how to open again their homes together with their hearts to their former enemies.”