Laura Gordon

Laura Gordon (Survivor Corps in Burundi): Laura worked as an English teacher in Côte d’Ivoire in 2002 and Thailand in 2003. In 2006 she graduated from the University of Oxford with a 1st Class degree in Modern History. After graduating, Laura worked in Uganda as a research intern for the Uganda Human Rights Commission. At the time of her fellowship she was pursuing her master’s degree in International Affairs at The Graduate Institute, Geneva. After her fellowship, Laura wrote: “I'm more comfortable in my skin now, and after a couple of years of wondering where I belong, I'm now sure that it's overseas in the development world. I love Burundi and I'm desperate to go back.”

Profile: Willy Imberumwungere

16 Jul


Willy is reticent about his time associated with the rebel Frolina movement. He tells me that his decision to join them came from the loss of many members of his family in the early years of the crisis, who he determined to avenge. In 1994 he approached Frolina; although the rebels told him he was too young, like many traumatised young people, he continued to live a ‘crazy life’. Eventually they allowed him to act as a ‘traitor’ feeding them information wherever possible, a role that he continued for two years before being sent home, despite his wish to continue in the movement.  He wanted to continue with the rebels, but was sent home. Here, his life continued to be ‘crazy’; he longed for revenge, and continued to hate.

Finding CEDAC made the difference; he found a reason to life, and started to reconstruct his life, going back to school – he is now finishing his secondary school. Through CEDAC group meetings, he met others of similar ages who had had similar experiences, and was able to share what had happened to him. Through their support, he was able to pardon those who had killed his mother and brother. Although he still sees them every day, he says he has forgiven them.

Although Willy still has flashbacks of the war, he is glad to be alive and says that his old enemies are now his friends. Rather than hating and plotting revenge, he now sees his role as helping others to find the same forgiveness and peace that he has found – again, working through CEDAC, he promotes CEDAC’s work to others and participates in groups meetings to help those – such as Hassam – who are still struggling to deal with what has happened to them. As we talk about the future, he hopes that others will be able to forgive, as he has. Describing Burundi as a land of milk and honey (this is a bit out of the blue so he has to repeat it a few times before I’m sure it’s really what he’s saying!), where anything can grow and anything is possible, he hopes for economic growth to lift his generation out of poverty, and hopes to be a part of providing that growth.

Willy ne me dit pas trop du temps qu’il a passé avec le mouvement rebelle Frolina. Il me dit qu’il a pris la décision de les joindre parce que plusieurs membres de sa famille ont étés tués dans les premières années de la crise. Il a déterminé de les venger, et en 1994 il a approché Frolina. Les rebelles lui ont dit qu’il était trop jeune mais, comme beaucoup des jeunes traumatisés, il a continué de vivre « un vie fou ». Finalement ils l’ont demandé d’être « traitre » pour les donner de l’information quand c’était possible, un rôle qui a continué pour deux ans. Après ce période il a rentré à la maison, mais sa vie a continué d’être « fou » ; il avait envie de se venger, et il était plein de la haine.

Trouver CEDAC a fait une grande différence; il a trouvé une raison de vivre, et il a commencé de reconstruire sa vie. Il a retourné a l’école – il est maintenant en train de finir son école secondaire. Avec les réunions de sa groupe CEDAC, il est rencontré les autres des âges similaires qui ont eu les expériences similaires, et il a pu partager ce qui l’en a passé. Avec le soutien de sa groupe, il a pu pardonner ceux qui ont tué sa mère et son frère. Il me dit qu’il les voit tous les jours, mais il les a pardonnés.

Willy a encore les images et les rêves de la guerre, mais il est heureux d’être vivant et il dit que ses anciens ennemis sont maintenant ses amis. En place de la haine et les pensées de la vengeance, il croit maintenant que son devoir est de trouver la même capacité de pardonner et la même paix qu’il a trouvé. Il travail avec CEDAC en parlant aux autres du travail de CEDAC et il participe dans les réunions du soutien pour aider ceux – comme Hassam – qui lutte encore d’accepter leurs expériences. Quand nous parlons de l’avenir, il dit qu’il espère que les autres peuvent pardonner, comme il a fait. It décrit Burundi comme « une terre de lait et miel », où tout peut pousser et tout est possible ; il espère pour la croissance économique pour aider sa génération à échapper la pauvreté, et il veut être partie de cette croissance.

Posted By Laura Gordon

Posted Jul 16th, 2009

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