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Amahoro Amani: Lasting peace promotion in the Great Lakes

an article by Paola Cervo

Amahoro Amani is a project to help young people re-establish peace in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic Congo, three countries with a common past and future even though they have different traditions, languages and destinies.

The project, which began in December 2005, is the result of a ten years long experience in the field of peace education, and is being carried out in collaboration between the seven Guide and Scout associations of the region, supported by WAGGGS and WOSM.

As a result of all the experience that these young people have, by the end of 2007, 420 community mediators aged between fifteen and twenty-five will have been trained in how to take action in their communities to prevent, mediate, and resolve conflicts peacefully. Eventually, not less than 21,000 young people will have been trained as “peacemakers”, through peer-to-peer training.

These community mediators are called upon to organise awareness campaigns about peaceful cohabitation and rejection of ethnic prejudices through various activities such as plays, debates, cultural events and sports meetings, supported by a network of trainers throughout the territory. Among the mediators' activities there is also the attendance at meetings of community structures: Bashingantahe in Burundi, Gacaca in Rwanda and Baraza in Democratic Congo (those are the names used to describe councils of wise men/elders respectively in Burundi, in Rwanda and in the East of the DR Congo).

The field experience gained by these community mediators has been evaluated during the Caravans of Peace, held in July 2007 and during the International Gathering for Peace, which took place in Gitega (Burundi) from 31st July to 4th August 2007, gathering more than 500 young people of the region and from foreign countries. For the community mediators, these two events will have provided an opportunity to share views about their activities and experiences over the previous two years.

This project has been an innovation for the region as it has managed in involving young people from all kind of social classes and from civil society’s associations, engaging them in a concrete work for peace building in their own local communities.

For further information about the project please contact amahoro.amani@yahoo.fr or gmussumba@yahoo.fr

DISCUSSION

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"Put down the gun and take up the pen:, What are some other examples?

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This report was posted on October 1, 2007.

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