Wishing everyone a very peace-FULL, hope-FULL, and happy new year….
Pictured: The newest graduates of Peace Camp, held Nov. 18-25, 2013, in Kigali, Rwanda. We had 65 youth and youth leaders attend this year (including a team of 11 from the DR Congo and three youth reps from Kenya). The camp is an annual event sponsored by A Peace of Life, thanks to all of our generous supporters including CBM, a major partner in this youth peace media initiative.
In addition to peace education through interactive games and learning, new activities at camp this year included visiting a pottery cooperative, making friendship bracelets, a traditional dance lesson and performance by NIYO Cultural Centre, a nightly radio news skit, a lively peace camp presentation during Sunday worship at the AEBR Kacyiru church, and the creation of a few short music videos with the help of our friends at Almond Tree Films Rwanda. See clips on Youtube.
But overall, was the emphasis on inner peace and personal transformation (living in love, forgiveness and reconciliation). An important workshop to help us in this process was Paulette Baraka’s session on trauma and peer counselling after our visit to the national genocide memorial. We were also inspired by hearing the personal experiences of Marc, one of the founders of Peace & Love Proclaimers, and Phanual. See more of Phanuel’s story.
See more photos from peace camp and our other activities throughout the year.
On the drawing board: we are dreaming big for 2014, which marks the 20th Commemoration of the Genocide in Rwanda,with plans for Solidarity Peace Camp – with more countries to be represented; an exciting peace club challenge; a new youth newspaper; a short film, and many other activities to promote youth peace using the arts and media.
See you in the new year!
All photos in this post: Dydine Umunyana
Happy Easter, with love from Rwanda
Think change is impossible? Be inspired by these Change Poems written by courageous youth as part of activities at Peace Camp 2012.
I was… hopeless.
I remember… little children encouraged to kill.
I heard… people calling others animal names.
I saw… people mistreating their neighbours.
I worried… about the day after that.
I thought …it was the end of life.
But I want to change.
I am… built up with peace.
I think… of the world with love and peace.
I will try… to live in peace with myself.
I feel… so strong.
I forgive… all mistaken elders.
Now I can change.
I will… be a peace-builder.
I choose… to follow the bright side.
I dream… of making the world more peaceful.
I hope… to live in a wonderful place.
I know… I will make it in Jesus’ name.
I will change.
View Change Poems 2012 Presentation for more inspiring youth poems.
As we enter Holy Week, a time of intense sorrow but also incredible joy, we remember, reflect and celebrate the world’s greatest example of love and forgiveness – the death and resurrection of Jesus so that all can be reconciled to God and to each other. It’s a message of true peace. It starts with a personal choice to change.
The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis occurred on the eve of the Easter season. Neighbour sat beside neighbour in church and then some went about brutally eliminating their neighbour. It’s a soul-wrenching reminder of the battle raging between good and evil in our world. Are we complicit? Complacent? Or are we committed to not being overcome by evil, but rather overcome evil by doing good? There are many youth in Rwanda who are committed to doing just that, to being peacemakers in whatever situation they find themselves in.
We believe it starts with treating each other with dignity, to listen, to show empathy, to help each other explore skills and talents. We encourage the use of the arts to stimulate creativity and sharing our stories, to discover common ground.
Photos: Johnny Lam Photography/A Peace of Life. All rights reserved.
Congratulations to the latest graduates of peace camp offered annually by A Peace of Life in partnership with AEBR Youth! The most poignant and meaningful activity of Peace Camp 2012 was the day we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre (pictured above). It was a time to renew our commitment to work together to be a source of peace, hope and love in our world. After this deeply emotional day youth were encouraged to write reflections on their visit. We look forward to sharing some of their thoughts and writings in future blog postings.
Peace Camp 2012 brought together over 60 youth and camp leaders from across Rwanda as well as a team of youth leaders from neighbouring DR Congo and volunteers from Canada and Kenya. We enjoyed a jam-packed six days of interactive learning on conflict and conflict transformation, peer to peer counselling basics in mental health and trauma, art therapy, character development for radio scripts, and self-help group basics.
Our training involved a variety of hands-on-learning and games - including our very own peace olympics which featured team relays and challenges as well as an arts category with spoken word (peace poems) and dance presentations. Pictured: Dydine, one of our volunteer directors in Rwanda, was our “filmmaker in residence” at camp, capturing activities such as this peace poem performed on the last day of camp. Dydine is one of Rwanda’s up-and-coming talents and has started an organization, Umbrella Cinema Promoters, to empower and encourage more female participation in the film industry. We look forward to seeing more of her work and will be uploading some short clips on our YouTube channel in the coming months.
Popular night activities (besides staying up late in the dorms to talk!) included campfire night. Pictured left to right: Michel, our camp co-director, teaches William, our Kenyan volunteer, some Rwandan dance moves to the delight of campers. William also led a workshop on starting a self help group and shared some of his personal peace-building experience which includes food security and development in one of the most violent-prone and drought-striken regions of Kenya.
Another special night was the screening, in our makeshift outdoor theatre, of the latest short film, “Behind the Word,” by Clementine Dusabejambo, one of Rwanda’s rising stars in the film industry. She was on hand with other filmmakers of Almond Tree Films to answer questions and encourage youth to pursue their dreams and potential in the arts.
Pictured: Anthony, a former peace camper, returns as a leader. We were thrilled to have Anthony lead a session and share his personal experience in starting a peace club in his village. Anthony also facilitated an outdoor game that he learned this past year as part of trauma counselling training with pyschologist Paulette Baraka. We were also pleased to have Paulette join us once again to facilitate a session on spiritual and mental health after our visit to the Memorial Centre to help youth process their feelings. Read more about Anthony’s story
There’s so much more to report on from peace camp 2012, but that will have to wait till next month’s posting. Thanks so much to all of our donors and volunteers for making this event possible. You are terrific!
Photo credit (for all photos in this blog posting): Johnny Lam Photography
“Youth are a national treasure,” says Dydine Umunyana Shami, one of the volunteer directors affiliated with A Peace of Life in Rwanda. She took this photo on a visit to western province over the holidays. We agree and are very happy to feature it today as our Friday fun photo.
School’s out…and many youth in Rwanda are now home for the holidays. But large numbers of youth continue to miss out on the opportunity to complete secondary education or even vocational skills training – it remains too big a financial burden for many families. At our last peace camp, several youth shared the burden of lacking fees and were in tears at the thought of not returning to school in the new term. Poverty is one of the big challenges that youth face and that causes conflict and hardship. Some resort to desperate measures to stay in school or to earn a living. Some become vulnerable to abuse by those in positions of authority. These are just some of the issues we discuss at peace camp and incorporate into dramas, songs and dances as part of peace-building. At our upcoming camp, to be held the last week of November, teams of youth will be working on scripts, do a pitch to a team of “celebrity” judges, with the winning script and/or script characters to form the basis of a new radio drama to be written and produced by youth. We will also be learning more about social enterprise with youth pitching their best ideas to start a small, youth-led business. Stay tuned for more exciting news as plans progress. We’re looking forward to another great camp! Learn more about peace camp
About today’s photographer: Dydine is dedicated to peace-building and to developing the potential of youth in her country, and Africa in general. She recently attended an international conference on forgiveness, “Healing the Wounds of History”, in Kigali. She has also just launched a non-profit organization, Umbrella Cinema Promoters, to “bring the light to Africa through cinema”, and empower more young African women to become invovled in filmmaking. We look forward to featuring her very first short film on AIDS at the next peace camp, and having her as one of our trainers and peer mentors. Dydine will help youth work on script-writing and share some of her personal experience as a young entrepreneur. More news shortly on other special guests to attend peace camp, including some possible young talent from Canada!
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A Friday Fun Foto…..girls in focus
We post this photo today in honour of the three women (two of whom are from Africa) who were awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Congratulations, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) and Tawakul Karman (Yemen)! It’s a great acknowledgement of the crucial role of women in peace-building and community development. Through your work, you’ve highlighted the need to address issues of poverty and gender inequality as part of the peace process.
Pictured (left to right): Prencesse, Claudine, Germaine – three inspiring young women who are peacebuilders in Rwanda, and members of our gafotozi, learning to use the arts and media for social change.
Photo taken by Johnny Lam, documentary photojournalist, as part of our first photography workshop. Next month, he and the gafotozi will be at peace camp and also back in the village, working on more photo essays. We look forward to posting their new creative!
Friday Fun Foto: Hello, BBA – welcome to the world! We’re pleased to announce the launch this Saturday, Mar. 12, of Basic Brilliant Africa (BBA) the very first student peace club at INATEK University, Kibungo, in eastern region of Rwanda. There’s going to be lots of singing and dancing!
If you’re in the area, don’t miss all the fun. Guest artists to perform include nationally known musicians as well as new artists from the grassroots, a new film, Maibobo (highlighting issue of street kids) by Almond Tree Films Rwanda and the gafotozi exhibit.
A peace of life is proud to be one of the participants and sponsors of this event.
Uncle (Tonto in kinyarwanda) gives his advice to questions of love, conflict, and everything in between, in a new youth peace newspaper launching in March. It’s just one of the exciting things to burst out of peace camp and the partnership of a peace of life and AEBR Youth to empower and equip youth to be leaders in peace and development. See more about peace camp.
Special thanks (and a very BIG SHOUT OUT) to the talented illustrator, Colanthony, for volunteering his amazing skills. He’s one of the featured young talent in a new book, Toronto Graffiti. Love to have you at our next peace camp!
It’s Friday Fun Foto….So You Think You Can Dance, Rwanda? Yego! (Yes!)
Just some of the song, dance and slam (poetry) that we had at our youth peace camp, held this past November in Nyange. Our photographer is Anthony, one of the gafotozi.
See more photos by the gafotozi at peace camp.
Gotta see this…clips of some of the song, dance and slam (poetry), live and unedited, from nyange youth peace camp.
Learn more about our first peace camp and how you can help sponsor another one.