Goat kebabs and some rather angry men.

Niall2 Posted by Niall Manogue on Mon, 31 Mar 2008 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

We’ve finished my mini road trip visiting some of our Global partners in the more rural parts of Burundi, and as we were retuning to Bujumbura tonight, we encountered something rather odd. We’d stopped to have a brochette (goat kebabs – very fresh – the meat was cut from the beast in front of my eyes) when suddenly a large group of men, carrying suitcases, started up the hill towards us. They were clearly angry about something and were chastising two senior looking soldiers traveling with them. I turned to Pascal (the provincial education co-ordinator and my guide/ driver for the weekend) to find out what was going on. He told me that these men were being ‘demobbed’ (demobilised) and that they weren’t happy about getting left at the side of the road by the army, who were meant to be taking them to their villages. Decades of conflict have come to an end in Burundi, with many of those involved in the army and rebel groups, being paid off to leave their guns behind and reintegrate into normal life.

Over our surprisingly tender kebab, he went on to tell me about their situation, and as he spoke he referred back to conversations that we had been having all weekend about education, and it’s transformative role in post-conflict settings.

Burundi is moving out of a very dark period in its history. A long running civil war, punctuated by genocidal killings, has taken its toll upon infrastructure, communities and individuals. I have seen more clearly than ever, over the past week, the need for whole scale transformation if Burundi is to continue its path towards a more prosperous, stable future. The role that the church plays is vital in this.

I have seen how our partnerships can play a small role in helping the church as it grapples with very real and complicated challenges. Everywhere I have gone, I have seen the benefit of long term, holistic involvement. Improving schools infrastructure and training for education providers helps give young people education and hope for a better future. Training church leaders produces pastors who will disciple local Christians and stand up against racial and tribal division. Partnering with the church in Burundi shows them that they are not alone, that they have not been forgotten and that Christians around the world care for them.

Partnership ain’t sexy. Often it carries on unseen without grabbing the headlines. But this week, I have seen its potential – If Burundi is to continue upon its path towards recovery, if the church is to play a role in that journey, then partnership, long term holistic involvement, is going to prove to be very significant indeed.

Just a couple more days in Burundi for me, then off to Uganda later on this week.

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