My name is Kishan Patel. I am 19 years old and I have been part of the Truce 20/20 project for just under two years. I remain actively involved since completing the training, nowadays delivering workshops to schools, being part of the Truce steering group, and attending our international peacemaker visits with individuals from all over the world.
The latest of these was on 28 November, when we were fortunate to meet Landry Ninteretse, a peacemaker from Burundi, which has suffered from civil wars for many years. Having attended previous events before, I always feel privileged living in the UK, where we don’t have to go through the sort of suffering that happens in other countries.
Truce has a very unusual way of working: we often play games to educate us. To open this session, we each introduced ourselves and chose a mode of transport that we would like to be. I was intrigued by what Landry mentioned – it was something very simple and sweet. He mentioned that he would like to be a bicycle, because back in Burundi he is always travelling location to location on his bicycle. This made me reflect on how, here, people use their cars for small, around the corner visits.
We then did a funny warm-up exercise, followed up by one of everyone’s favourite games – ‘Sun shines on’. This game is always good fun, as we are always running around. It encourages people to learn and share from one another in an active way.
After a tea break, it was time for the main event: the talk from Landry about his work as a peacebuilder in a post-war country. Landry’s life story was very heart-warming. He explained how, when he was young, the conflict was very confusing for him. He described how he had lost his grandparents in the mass-killings and his cousin who was fighting in a militia. He had seen his cousin’s death as a turning point for him to make a positive change.
I was surprised and inspired to learn that Landry was once offered a scholarship to study in Canada, but chose instead to stay in Burundi and commit to social change. Over the next couple of years, he sought out like-minded friends and eventually, with two others, created a peacebuilding charity called APD. This now has 30 active members, including 2 paid staff. For me, the highlight of the talk was when he told us about the differences and similarities and especially the latter between Hutu and Tutsi – for example the fact that everybody in Burundi speaks the same language.
Finally we ended the night with a quick go-around, each person in the room saying one thing that they would take away from the session. For me, I took away hope. Listening to the talk from Landry has showed me that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. So in times of difficulty, there is always a possibility to come out of it, and I can always hope to do better.