“Amahoro Amani – Peace Caravan”, an initiative from Scouts in the great lakes region of Africa to build lasting peace in their communities
For decades, the Great Lakes Region has suffered from a series of conflicts, especially ethnic violence, resulting in a number of destabilizing issues. Beginning in 2005 supported by Gifts for Peace, Scouts and Guides from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda joined together to combat these issues and establish lasting peace. This remarkable effort marked the beginning of the Amahoro Amani Project. As the world’s top leaders meet for Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development this week, World Scouting is proud to present this story as one of the examples of how millions of Scouts are contributing to sustainable development. Messengers of Peace – World Scouting’s flagship initiative has helped revive and expand this wonderful project in recent months.
Through this project, over 400 Scouts and Guides were trained as community mediators and created hundreds of Peace Clubs. These Clubs played a vital role in sparking social change. They engaged in activities such as, supporting the return of refugees, protecting the environment, cleaning hospitals, and bridging cultural gaps. Additionally, this project illustrates the strong bond Scouts and Guides have in their quest to spread peace in their communities.
In July 2007, Peace Caravans enabled Scouts from the three participating countries to travel across the Great Lakes Region and spread their message. They led peace-promoting activities such as visiting the sick and rebuilding houses. By the time the Caravan reached Bungere Hill in Burundi in the end of July, the effort had increased from 250 Scouts to 750. The end of the Caravan’s journey marked the beginning of the first Peace Gathering, which took place from July 30th to August 4th, 2007. It was at the Gathering that Scouts were able to reflect on their incredible work thus far, celebrate their accomplishments, and discuss ways to continue it in the future. The Scouts also participated in a Global Development Village as part of the Peace Gathering, in which a series of workshops were held. After two years, the end of the first segment of the Project, 21,000 youth had participated and worked to incite change and understanding in the region.
Gilbert Mussumba, the Project Manager of Amahoro Amani, described the objectives of the Project as an effort to mobilize youth to spread and maintain peace in the Great Lakes Region as well as train youth in peaceful conflict resolution. After the end of the 2005-2007 phase, Mr. Mussumba said he wanted to expand the Project to encompass even more youth in the three original countries as well as other countries in Africa and other Regions around the world. Since 2005, Scouts have continued to spread peace through the Peace Clubs but when the Messengers of Peace Initiative began, Mr. Mussumba saw it as a great way to ensure the maintenance and success of Amahoro Amani for years to come. Thus in December 2011, the next phase of Amahoro Amani was launched co-funded by MoP and the Swedish Guide and Scout Council. This new chapter was designed to strengthen the capacity of the community mediators and Peace Clubs established during the first phase. Additionally, the Project was designed to work towards expanding the network of mediators as they act to promote a peaceful coexistence and acceptance of differences that could perpetuate conflicts.
From 26 December 2011 to 2 January 2012, the Amahoro Amani Project held its second Peace Gathering. Much like the first Gathering, the second was intended to be an opportunity for the Scouts to reflect, to celebrate, and to recruit more community mediators to ensure the future successes of Amahoro Amani. The Gathering functioned to renew friendships and understanding, as well as renew the participants’ commitment to spread peace throughout the Great Lakes Region. In attendance were over 600 Scouts and Guides from five countries in the Great Lakes region, thus expanding the original sphere of Amahoro Amani, just as Mr. Mussumba had hoped. By the end of this phase of Amahoro Amani, in November 2013, the leaders intend to reach 29,000 Scouts and train them to become Messengers of Peace. These Scouts will join their fellow Messengers and work towards eliminating poverty, overcoming differences, and combating conflicts in the Great Lakes Region. Ultimately, the valuable lessons learned through Amahoro Amani may extend past the Africa Scout Region and facilitate the spread of peace across the globe.