Burundi is a small country that has suffered nearly five decades of violence and grave human rights abuses. Since gaining independence in 1962, some 300, 000 people have died as a result of violence between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. And although the last rebel group laid down their weapons in 2009, the situation remains fragile.
The country is currently preparing for the launch of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC aims to establish the truth about the atrocities committed since independence by questioning ordinary people, victims, witnesses, former and new leaders at public hearings across the country. As well as addressing past crimes, the TRC will ask people to share their thoughts on how reconciliation and lasting peace can be achieved.
However, it is feared that this process could stir up old resentments and tensions, provoking fresh violence. As 65 cent of the population are under the age of 20, it is vital that they are fully involved in the opportunity for peace that the TRC brings. This is why Peacebuilder Landry Ninteretse started Action for Peace and Development (APD), a youth group that engages young people in building peace and democracy in Burundi.
APD is setting up peace clubs in 10 high schools where students will learn the skills they need to resist political violence. The peace clubs are also a place where young people can develop their own practical ideas for how to achieve a more peaceful, tolerant and democratic society in Burundi. The young peacebuilders will share this with their peers, families and communities and to a wider audience through radio shows. APD hope to scale up their work to include schools nationwide in the next three years.
APD is one of three members of the new Grow Peace Fund. The Fund is specifically designed to give sustained support as the members grow over the coming months and years. Read more about the fund.