TFF's WORK IN BURUNDI
TFF has felt compelled to make a contribution to Burundi's quest for peace through various NGO-related initiatives as well as through its consultancy work with the government. Very few other international NGOs have been engaged for a longer time, and it is certainly no easy task to find project funding for Burundi. Furthermore, working in Burundi is not exactly an activity that gives a foreign NGO a worldwide prestige boost. â€¨â€¨
Since 1999, TFF has done conflict-analysis and mitigation, peace education courses, skills training and, in 2005-2007, we worked with the Amahoro Coalition made up of 13 leading local NGOs - Amahoro meaning peace. In addition, project leader Jan Oberg, ran the first-ever peace studies course in the country at one of the private universities. The university, unfortunately, never implemented a plan to establish an MA degree in the field.â€¨â€¨
Former street boy at the beach of Lake Tanganyika, Bujumbura, Burundi
Since 2006 TFF has conducted two projects:
â€¨â€¨1) Helping to establish the Amahoro Youth Club (AYC) with about 25 members, many of them university students. The aim was to create a leading, nation-wide youth movement for peace able to train other young people in conflict-resolution and peace-making on a Gandhian platform. This work has implied not only peace-training but also training in management, communication, bookkeeping, financial management, fundraising, project development, meeting techniques - all down to minute detail.â€¨â€¨
One of the activities that AYC took up was to help empower a group of former street boys through social activities and sports. Some of these boys are pictured here.
2) Assisting the Burundian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop an international media strategy. The aim was to ensure that Burundi would appear more frequently in the international media, both to highlight the issues it faces and to present the country as a good story out of Africa. Through seminars, brainstorms and close consultations, a strategy with a plan of action was produced but, unfortunately, this project was discontinued in 2009 when the then Foreign Minister left the country to take up an international position.
â€¨â€¨These projects were financed first of all by TFF Friends and their donations and - until December 31, 2007 - by the Swedish Folke Bernadotte Academy.â€¨â€¨
As of 2012, the time this entry was written - the situation is, regrettably, the following: â€¨â€¨
In mid-2010 a small number of AYC members decided to empty the Club's bank account. They have refused ever since to account for the funds or to explain themselves, which would have been a precondition for internal reconciliation and conflict-resolution - rather than a court process.
The funds were donations from TFF and another organisation and a few AYC membership fees. â€¨â€¨Simultaneously with the theft, invoices were faked and an attempt was made to exclude the Legal Representative of the Club and install one of the people who had diverted the funds in his place. All of this was a far cry from the Gandhian ethos agreed and the AYC's slogan about being the change you want to see.
â€¨â€¨It has not been possible to continue the Club's work on a regular basis since this criminal activity took place.
The Ministry of the Interior, under whose jurisdiction NGOs come, has been fully informed and understands that activities can, in the best of cases, be resumed once the court procedure has come to a close and a judicial verdict has been given.â€¨â€¨
It remains to be seen whether the 'clean' AYC members wish to rebuild their Club more or less from scratch - if not, it will be closed down - and whether any new activity will emerge from these sad events.
Bertille, student, Bujumbura - conviviality, no losing hope there...