Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi

by Innovations in Peacemaking Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi
Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi

IPB November 2021 narrative Report


This is IPB November 2021 narrative. It describes the Burundi sociopolitical improvement following the 2020 peaceful elections and a trauma healing follow up for a group of Batwa

  1. Burundi’ sociopolitical improvement after the 2015 election crisis

On May 7, 2020, the 993rd meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council recognized the Burundi’s sociopolitical improvement and removed it from its agenda. The Council called the international community to immediately lift all sanctions and other forms of punitive measures imposed against Burundi without further delay.

The council welcomes the improved relations between Burundi and its neighbors, as well as  with the European Union and other bilateral and multilateral partners and encourages the Burundian stakeholders to preserve the gains achieved since the peaceful transition, and calls on all parties to embrace the spirit of political tolerance to foster national cohesion and reconciliation.

A considerable number of politicians who fled the country came back. Burundians in diaspora are participating the community wellbeing and development. Those who fled the country are returning back massively.

 Joe Biden, President of America removed the sanctions imposed to Burundi on November 18, 2021 in what he called “the executive order on the termination of emergency with respect to the situation in Burundi “.


  1. Trauma healing Follow up with Batwa Group of Muyaga Quarter


IPB conducted a one day trauma healing follow up on Friday, December 3, 2021 for fifteen (15) Batwa.

Following are key success stories

  1. Many things are the basic of the trauma I’m holding. For instance in my childhood I was forbidden to play with other neighborhood children accusing me of smelling bad. At the primary school, the same attitude was expressed to me and all other Batwa. I finally dropped from school. I grew up under identity of contempt and marginalization. I was surprised to find the same situation in the refugee camp. Whenever we wanted to fix our shelter, other refugees left a distance between and us.  Today as returnees this identity distanciation remains a little bite.

 More thanks to IPB that reserved this kind of training dealing with trauma healing and effective reintegration of returnees from exile. I come to understand how traumatized I’m and the way of recovering from it. I committed to be part of those who advocate and sensitize peace and reconciliation between Burundians

Salvator. The injustice toward us was like our daily diet since my childhood till now. This injustice pushed me to drop from my secondary school. Today I regret to see that I became cowardly because those who resisted occupy good job in government and other institutions today. The life within the refugee’ camp was also discriminatory and wounded me too and I decided to return home. Since I attended in July the basic workshop, my trauma symptoms are going over day by day and, I’m glad to see that all people are taken care including all returnees without exclusion as before

Thank you for IPB its sponsors too.

In behalf of IPB

Elie Nahimana, Project leader

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IPB July 2021 Narrative Report

  1. General context.

July 2021 month’s period was characterized by the National Independence celebration whit more than 60 representatives of countries and United Nations’ organizations , the presence of  more than four thousands  Burundians living aboard during the week of the diaspora and many refugees continuing to come back home. IPB is continuing to sensitize the COVID 19 prevention

  1. Activity performed

A three days trauma healing basic workshop was conducted in favor of Batwa group where sixteen participants were present from July 18 till 20, 2021 including eleven female and five (5) male.

This activity aims at helping this group understand what is trauma, its causes, symptoms and consequences and the way to recover from it. it was also a good opportunity to sensitize   for effective reintegration of returnees.

  1. Key success stories


What wounded me mostly was the fact that my mother forced to abandon my studies after my primary school in favor of my brother. What saddened me mostly was the fact that my brother failed to finish it as he was not willing to follow it. Those with whom I was attending the same classes are taking good position in the politic at the national or regional level. I kept nervous against my mother and hopeless for the future. The consequences of this is the trauma I’m holding that is manifesting itself through different symptoms that we come to learn during the three days. As effects I was relieved by the personal healing journey, the way of dealing with our anger and the way of overcoming from trauma.

During the tree of trust illustration, I was comforted by the fact that my children are following their studies with success. Two of them has finished the secondary school and are attending the university.

More thanks to IPB that reserved this kind of training to our group that many organizations lives behind.


I got traumatized by the injustice I met because I belong to Twa ethnic group.  I was born a protestant Christian and attended the Sunday school since my little age and became a pastor after my studies. When the multiparty of 1992, I switched from the church to the politic. Being a single from my ethnic group, I competed a member of the parliament. After convincing almost all Twa from my province to vote for our political party, I got replaced by someone else from the Tutsi ethnic group. I got intimidated until I fled my locality.  It’s difficult for me to forget the injustice I went through and the decision I took to drop my pastoral calling that I regret until today. Whenever I start to think about that, I miss sleep and pass a whole night with bad feeling in my heart and my stomach. Consequences of that are a series of trauma symptoms starting by isolation, lack of asleep, alcohol drinking and other bad behavior in my family and community in general.

I come to benefit from the compassion and empathic listening and the fact that after traumatic events, life must continue. I’m glad to know the causes of my bad behavior and the way to overcome from them. I had never said this as I didn’t know the causes. More thanks for IPB for these teachings. I advocate for others mainly those belonging to Batwa group as they have been exposed to trauma causes for many decades.


IPB is grateful for the AGLI continuing support to foster peace in Burundi

Elie Nahimana

Project Leader

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This is the final report for Innovations in Peacemaking-Burundi's (IPB) project, Reconciling Youth and Police in Bujumbura, Burundi. Donors contributed $10,845 in donations towards the activities in this project.

IPB has now intiatived a new project called "Reconciliation of Refugees Returning from Exile." With the successful Burundi election this year with the result of new leadership, there is movement to repair the damaged relationship between Burundi and Rwanda. One aspect of this is the return of Burundian refugees from Rwanda. This new project will promote reconciliation between those refugees who return and the communities where they left. To donate to this new project click on

This report consists of a number of pictures illustrating the successful activities IPB has done in the last two years of this project in promoting peacemaking between youth from different sides of the political divide together with the security forces.

See picture #1 which illustrates what Innovations in Peacemaking Burundi is envisioning through its programs and activities taking in account the community trauma healing as the foundation where the social cohesion and youth economic resilience were built on.

Healing from the trauma facilitates to (2) social cohesion and this gives opportunity for youth to (3) identify economic opportunities to address poverty, widely recognized as a driver of political conflict in Burundi. These give to (4) the reconciliation and the (5) community wellbeing.

The main activity within IPB passes by conducting workshops and the targeted group is youth in general

1. Community trauma healing with the National Police University

Picture #2 illustrates a “trust walk exercise” during a workshop on community trauma healing, where a blind-folded person was led carefully around by a partner whose eyes are open, and they changed the role afterwards. This aimed at restoring the trust lost due to the hardship time met in Burundi.

2. Workshops with Secondary Students

Picture #3 is a group photo after a three-days trauma healing seminar (certificates of participation in hands) in Cibitoke Secondary School.

3. Workshops on social cohesion in Bujumbura community following the 3B approach developed by Catholic Relief Services (Binding, Bonding & Bridging).

Picture #4 shows one of these workshop sessions.

4. Dialogue on reconciling youth and the police in Bujumbura workshops.

Picture #5 shows the police and youth attending a workshop.

5. Gender Based Violence workshops

Esperance shared a testimony about her trauma healing journey and her positive change regarding the gender based violence as follows:

With IPB-HROC teaching, I got to accept myself when I understood that even though I am a girl, there is something I am best at a boy is not good at. Before, I believed that I was able of nothing. This kind of belief matched with what the society and my family taught me. At home, I was mistreated because I was the only girl among five brothers. Whatever they told me at home, they tried hard to show me that I am nothing and I am able of nothing constructive. Now, I understood and I even experienced that I am a child like others in the family. I have something I am good at that boys aren’t. I understand that I existed so that we may complete each other.

6.  Economic resilience for youth.

Emmanuel's testimony (see picture #6):

I personally set up a cooperative named “Notre Avenir” (Our Future). We farm rice, vegetables and other food. In addition, we are now re-cycling domestic waste and transforming it into combustible (charcoal) for cooking. I assure you it is moving very well.

7. Small group discussion within Cathoric ReliefServices' project

See picture #7.

8. Playing soccer to reconcile the youth and the local authorities in Nyakabiga zone.

Picture #8 illustrates the reconciliation of the youth and local authorities in playing soccer

9. Youth involvement in community improvment.

Picture #9 shows that community work is proof in testifying to the mutual collaboration and communication between youth and local authorities.

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Picture #9
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Temperature taking and hand washing by participant
Temperature taking and hand washing by participant

During last week's Litle by Little campaign, IPB received 7 donations, $350 in donations, and $175 in bonuses, for a total of $525. Thanks to those people who donated.


Burundi  finished the first month of the campaign to fight against the COVID 19 promulgated by the new government for a period of three months beginning on July 6, 2020. International and local organizations are involved today each one according its capacities. IPB-HROC is involved to in partnership with African Great Lakes Initiative, Catholic Relif Services and Quaker Peace Norway. The first picture shows items bought using a grant given by AGLI/FPT

As illustrated by the photo, a thermoflsh was also bought to take the temperature of any participant at IPB-HROC peace activities.

The campaign reached the national level and Burundi still officially with one case of death due to this chronic disease that had hit the patient.

At the political and diplomatic levels, the new government has progressed in reestablishing good relations

Brief description of need for workshop and that of participants

IPB-HROC got a call from one secondary school of Nyakabiga zone to conduct a htree days’ HROC basic workshop for representatives of teachers and a group of students’ volunteers of the Red Cross club. On July 27 till 29, 2020 9 teachers and 11 students were present. Among them 10 females and 10 males. 

It’s the first time to meet together students and teachers in a workshop. It’s a new experience in trauma healing which was very amazing.

The Red cross volunteers team

Brief description of Nyakabiga zone

First of all, Nyakabiga is a zone which was negatively affected by the 2015 political crisis. Besides, facilitators were able to realize that many of the stories from the participants were about their fathers who were lost in different crises as they were soldiers from the National Army. Those losses caused complicated traumatic experiences as, often, the bodies of the deceased ones were not given back to their families for burial customs. It is, then, important to help the participants to release their anger and frustration.

Secondly, as the workshop met together teachers and students, it became a wonderful platform for them to discuss about issues that are trauma causes at their school. Also, they discussed about some good things which contributed to a harmonious atmosphere at the school. Generally speaking, the workshop was amazing.


Firstly, teachers and students discussed deeply about issues that can cause trauma at their school. They also suggested some recommendations to both administrations of the school and other students. Secondly, the participants gained more knowledge about Corona Virus and the preventive measures such as hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing. This was done during the first 45 minutes of each day before the participants settled inside the workshop classroom. Also, the participants ‘temperature was checked every day before the beginning of the workshop. Fortunately, everyone had a normal temperature all the three days.


Some participants were not present on third day. This disrupted all the plans regarding logistics.

Following are testimonies from the the workshop


I lost my father whom I loved very much. I was 5 years old and I had started my primary school. Whenever I heard other kids calling their fathers, I felt hurt in my heart. Also, whenever I enter into our home, I often cry hard as I see the photos of my father hanging on the wall. In the same way, whenever I miss something, I always remember my father because I know if he could be alive, I could not miss anything. My extended family has also been a burden to me as it tried many times to treat me and my family unjustly. I appreciate my mother who strived in growing 7 children including me. 

This workshop comes to alleviate a little bite the consequences of my trauma that I come to know the consequences on me. I’m glad to know about trauma and the way to overcome from it


I lost my both parents when I was still very young. My father passed away when I was 4 years old and my mother took care of me until the time I was 12 years old. Then, she also passed away. After, I was taken care by different people. Since that time, whenever I have issues such as dispute with classmates, I remember my father and I feel bad in my emotions. I do request HROC to continue helping me and other youth who faced the same problem like me to overcome the past and work for a bright future. 


I want to share with you a story that traumatized me. It is a story of a family who fled the war and came into our house. In 1993, in Bujumbura rural, a place named Butaganzwa, there was a civil war between the two ethnic groups: In the first place, the Hutu killed Tutsi and after, the Tutsi came in our place located in Kinyovu/Rusaka in Mwaro province for revenge. There was a family of Hutu who asked for refuge into our house and the refuge was granted for a while. In the night, the family was asked to move again and go to a Catholic parish at Bukwavu as a way of finding a sustainable refuge. Unfortunately, in the way, the family was arrested by the killers and they slaughtered the whole family including the mother who was pregnant. Only the first born got saved because she climbed a tree when the killers where still preparing to murder the family. At that time, I was not born yet but I was really affected by this story. 

Recommendations for way forward:

The facilitators, based on the observations taken note during this workshop recommend to:

Keep helping children who lost their parents especially fathers such as  Belyse who failed to name even one person who loves her during empty chair session!

Participants advocated for othe school to learn about CPVID prevention and have equipment to do that

Reported by Icishatse Elie Rodrigue

On behalf of IPB-HROC Burundi

Covid-19 prevention supplies donated by AGLI
Covid-19 prevention supplies donated by AGLI
Red Cross volunteer team
Red Cross volunteer team
Participants during the Johari's window sesseion.
Participants during the Johari's window sesseion.
Learning proper hand washing techiques.
Learning proper hand washing techiques.
Students during personal loss session.
Students during personal loss session.
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University students at follow-up workshop.
University students at follow-up workshop.
  1. Context

Today’s Burundi is marked by visible spread of the COVID 19 pandemic at the national level following the election campaign of May 2020. As solution to this, the Burundi new government comes to launch a national campaign since Monday July 6, 2020 to fight against it by reducing the price of the soap at 50% and the price of water for those living in villages and town who have to pay for water. All these to facilitate the washing hands measure for all people living in Burundi. UNICEF in collaboration with Savonor are going to make available ten thousand bars of soap since this coming week.

Equipment to test this pandemic is available now and many workshops and short trainings were organized at different levels of society. The implication of local and international organization and that of religious denominations is a reality today. A three month period to fight the pandemic is the first priority for the government where new centers equipped for testing it and treat patients are yet installed.

The Bujumbura capital city counts three centers including ETS Kamenge, Hotel Source du Nil and Kanyosha Catholic parish ground. For a period of two days of july  6 and 7, 2020, 670 people were tested in Bujumbura, among them 28 new cases were positive. We have registred 324 positif cases among them one have passed away when many of recovered from the pandemic.

IPB-HROC received a grant from AGLI and to buy a thermo flash, disinfectants and soap for this end. Five IPB-HROC staff were trained by Catholic Relief Servses on COVID prevention and in each activity, a session of the pandemic prevention is given.

Dr. Elisee, the IPB Legal Representative, received a whole week of training on COVID 19 prevention and methods of treatment.

All these are added values for IPB to make a contribution today on the pandemic prevention

Brief summary

Two main activities were performed during May and June 2020 including (i) one  HROC follow up with university students, and (ii) three HROC basic workshops with secondary schools in Gitega with a total of 105 young participated

Activities Description

One HROC follow up

A one day HROC follow up met together twenty five (25) university students representing all Burundi provinces at IPB-HROC compound to brainstorm the way to build a national platform / network using HROC program in responding to the trauma consequences that many Burundi live under.

These students wish to work hand in hand with IPB in this project. IPB finds the idea very important as it responds to the need of having provincial focal points that take initiatives and IPB gives technical support. As conclusion the students’ representatives and IPB accepted to enter in this process by conducting several similar follow up/meetings and be evaluating its evolution step by step.

HROC basic workshops

Three HROC basic workshops were conducted in Gitega during this period of June 2020.

The motivation behind returning to Gitega today is the below ones?

Following the 2015 election crisis, Bujumbura was the most impacted by the situation related to the protest against the third term of later President Nkurunziza. This pushed IPB-HROC to concentrate its efforts there in partnership with AGLI, AFSC and QSN both Quaker organizations through peace dialogues taking in account the HROC program strategies of interventions and nonviolent conflict management as well. 

Since 2017, Catholic Relief Services opened a space for HROC program in its project “ Be healed and cohabitate together” to offer technical services related to trauma healing until today in Bujumbura and Bubanza provinces.

Since 2019, the Burundi government separated the economic capital to the political one. Bujumbura remained the economic and Gitega became the political one.

Today the political sphere of the country at the high level is managed in Gitega and new initiatives are today piloted there.

Taking in account the way the 1993 Burundi crisis following the assassination of the hero of democracy President Ndadaye Melchior affected Gitega province and its surrounding, trauma healing is one of the needs for everyone there.

IPB-HROC plans to open a sub-office there and manage its interventions from the two strategic part of the country today: Bujumbura and Gitega.

The first three HROC basic workshops were conducted at Kwibuka Friends Church Center in three different schools and 80 students participated in those workshops.

HROC basic workshop at Kwibuka Technical School.

The third HROC basic workshop was facilitated at the Kwibuka technical school from June 18 to 20, 2020.

Twenty six students participated among the 21 males and 5 females. It’s a school where 90% are male since the profession followed there is mechanic and electricity and females still hesitating to study those carriers.

The participants came from different provinces of Burundi and especially Gitega, Ruyigi, Cankuzo, Muyinga, and Mwaro.

Students at the end expressed their joyful feeling to have this workshop even though it ask them to manage difficultly the strong emotions

Below are some testimonies


I lost my father when I was still a little girl /kid. I grew up without seeing him and I then asked about his death. Following how our neighbor told me, my father was very gentle and humble. He was kidnapped by unknown people. They took him at home and murdered him brutally. His body was found in the river in the nearby valley. This is something that made me sad throughout all these years. I developed isolation due to the fact I didn’t support sharing with other who still have their father. I do have other symptoms of trauma that I will share another day if strength to do it will be there.

Thank you for supporting me! 


My father was murdered by people when he was in his way towards Uganda. My father was a business man who purchased products in Uganda and then sold them in Burundi. I was born in good conditions because my father provided for the family. He also wants the wellbeing of me. Unfortunately, he was murdered and right after his death, my family and I carried out a hard life. It was even difficult to go to school with the provision of my mother only. I thank HROC for giving me the knowledge regarding trauma because I grew up feeling bad due to that lot of my father. Now, I understand that his death affected me. At least, I know why I am this way. Thank you very much for that!

HROC basic workshop at Kwibuka Secondary School

The second workshop was conducted at the Kwibuka secondary school on June 22 to 24, 2020 where 27 participants were present including 8 males and 19 females.

More than a half of participants lost one of the parents or both of them. Consequences of that situation due to the crisis were expressed during the three days.

Following are some testimonies


I got very sad because I lost my father in 1995. He woke up and went at work as usual and then, we waited his return home in vain. We kept hoping that he would come back but up to now, we haven’t seen him back. I got sad because since that time, we are not well treated in the father’s family. We started to miss even food and we hardly continue our studies while relatives on the side of my father are rich. Whenever I miss what I need, I remember my father and then I regret “if he could be alive, I would not miss this”. Whenever I think of him while I’m in class, I keep very quiet and I feel I don’t love anyone. If my classmates ask me while am I so quiet, I respond them unwillingly.

Therefore, I thank you for this workshop. It helped me to understand myself and supported me a lot because I found out that I am not the only person who experiences difficulties. I feel I need to help others who have trauma due to their experiences of the past.


I have two things which made me sad above many others more. On one hand, my father rejected us and on the other hand, my mother mistreats me as if she didn’t give birth to me.

I still have both parents alive but they don’t live together. My mother wished many bad things to me and I felt desperate because I realize that we were often incompatible. I feel rejected from everyone. She even wished one day strangers to cut off my legs, I may be flowed by water and many more bad wishes. I never feel at peace wherever I am because one day she even told me that I am a prostitute. All of these left me desperate and feel I am not like others. My mother did all of these to me because my father left her and married another wife.

In addition, I get sad because I have three step siblings and none of us shares a father with the other. At my highest surprise, I am the only child who is mistreated and my father doesn’t help me at all. He left me and married another wife. My mother and I live at my grandmother. Every time I ask myself why it happened like that and I have no answer. Sometime, I feel I can commit suicide because the life that I’m carrying out is very hard. Few times, I am happy.

Also, as my mother always wishes bad things to me, I try hard to be careful so that nothing bad may happen to me. I always ask God to give me a heart of patience and to succeed in my studies and be away from the desires of my eyes.

So, I thank you for this workshop. I feel my heart with hope and I hope that all these difficulties I am experiencing now will reach their end.

HROC basic workshop at Kwibuka Ferguson’ seminar

The Third HROC basic workshop was organized in favor of the Kwibuka Ferguson seminar students from June25 to 27, 2020.

Twenty seven (27) were present among them 15 males and 12 females. The majority of participants lost immediate family members as testimonies collected stated. See some below


I was traumatized by the death of grandmother. I got very sad because she passed away while she was coming to pay me a visit. It was on October 30th, 2019, the same date of my birthday. She was murdered on that same day. At day, she had completed to prepare herself and then a male neighbor found her and killed her. The reason was that my grandmother saw the man abusing his wife. Clearly, the man didn’t want anybody to be aware of such misbehavior toward her wife.  The man slaughtered with a knife my grandmother. Something that makes me more sad is the fact that the man is one of the richest person in our neighborhood while my grandmother is now “eating” the sand. Though she is no longer alive, I do love my grandmother very much. Even though I didn’t see her, she died because of me. I thank you for this workshop because normally I don’t speak out things which made me sad. But I come to learn that it’s the only one way to deal with bad things happening to us. Thank you very much!


Something that made me sad is the death of my sister. I was 4 years old when my sister passed away. That day we were all sleeping together. Then, I woke up. My mother asked me to wake up my sister as she stayed asleep. I called her name three times and after realizing that she didn’t responded I went to tell it to my mother. My mother entered in the room and called her also but in vain. Then, she started to pray for her and suddenly, witchcrafts which indwelled in her spoke out. They said that they killed her and they were ready to go away. They went away but, of course, after killing her. So, whenever I remember about that mysterious death, I am very sad. This workshop helped me a lot because I realized that I was inside the second Johari’s window. I can already feel that speaking out my sadness regarding the death of sister released my heart as a way to overcome the trauma I do have because of that death.

Recommendations for way forward:

  • Increase the number of workshops and follow ups.
  • Initiate  a HROC Club
  • Get a mentor from HROC to work closely with the Club
  • Provide other workshops in other themes









HROC basic workshop at Kwibuka Technical School.
HROC basic workshop at Kwibuka Technical School.
A participant during the "Empty Chair" session.
A participant during the "Empty Chair" session.
Group photo after workshop.
Group photo after workshop.
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Organization Information

Innovations in Peacemaking Burundi

Location: Bujumbura - Burundi
Project Leader:
Elie Nahimana
Bujumbura , Burundi

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