Founder biography

At night, these students tortured us for our ability to continue the studies.  One day, in May 1996, the Army accompanied by students from our high school went to my village and killed more than five hundred people.  When they returned to the Lycée, one student asked me. “Who has a father called Fiacre?  I want to tell him that I killed him myself.”  He had lied about killing my father but he wanted to make me fear and leave the school.


Burundi is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda (north), Tanzania (east and south), and the D.R. Congo (west).  Although the country is landlocked, much of the border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.
With a population of 8,700,000, it is the size of Massachusetts in land and people.

On Christmas Day 1996, I left the Lycée and went in the village because I wanted to share food with other members of my family during the Christmas celebration.  My village was located at 4 km from the Lycée.  Suddenly, when I was at 2km from the Lycée, I meet people who were running and when I asked them what happened, they told me that the military from Government were killing people in the village.  

My mind could not accept what they were telling me and i made the choice to continue my way to the village.  Before I arrive at home, I perceive everything close to me, someone I knew well, with a machete.  He was with the soldiers who were burning houses and killing people.  I was seized by a profound fear and I returned back in full silence.  On my return, I decide to go in another way by abandoning the road for fear that I might fall into an ambush of military.

Finally, I found in my way, people killed and houses burned.  Arriving back to the Lycée, I asked myself, What is important to live in world in this situation?   I thought that causing my own death could decrease my suffering, but I didn’t.

I grew in this situation.  I remember, when I was at the Lycée, every night before bedtime, I took a moment to think about the events I saw during war.  The people killed in my village, the explosions of grenades, seeing women raped, my family in exile, my own situation in the Lycée.  I thought about what I could do to help my people survive and make a change to my country.  One of the decisions I took was to continue supporting the rebellion movement politically by mobilising student and people to support this movement.

Besides my school activities, on weekends I climbed up into the mountains for the political mobilization of the National Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) movement which was fighting with the government army.  Working with the Major of Police for Burundi, my mission was to sensitize people about CNDD-FDD vision and why we need to fight for democracy.  

Another mission was to orient combatants when they were fighting against the army.  Sometimes, we went together with combatants to attack positions of army, but my priority was to finish my studies and support the movement CNDD-FDD in the same time with my studies.  During the period I realized that most victims of war are civilians.  Many of my friend combatants lost their lives too during this war.

Belonging to the movement gave me the opportunity to be in contact with important people.  One high personality who I respected, Mr. Jerome Ndiho, was in charge of communications for the CNDD FDD.  He was one of the people who helped me decide which positions to take with my life.

By 2002, I wanted to overcome the overwhelming trauma I had experienced.  I began to analyze how I should participate again in changing the world, more actively, while using all of my experience.  I had come to realize that one minute is sufficient to save life just as one minute is sufficient to lose life.  I dreamed of creating an organization to unite and reconcile all people – especially the young – around the theme of reconstruction.

This is how I was informed about an organization named Independent Centre of Research and initiatives for the Dialogue ‘CIRID’ based in Geneva.  That organization had been founded by Mr. Déo Hakizimana whom I respect a lot thanks to his opinion in favour of the humanity.  I quickly evolved in this organization as Chief of Staff of Youth Group in the international level.  That position gave me the opportunity to deepen my ideas.

Meeting other youth, I started to think how young people from across the Great Lakes region of Africa would play a good role in peace building in our different countries.  I proposed the creation of a regional network of the young people hired in the struggle for a best future of the Great Lakes region (website).

Through this initiative, I wanted the young people of the region have the opportunity to exchange ideas concerning problems common to the Great Lakes region and to suggest possible solutions as future leaders.  This echo has been warmly welcomed by all young people of the Diaspora as well as inside the region.  Unfortunately, due to a lack of support for the realization of this initiative; we didn’t reach the results we had hoped to.

The next idea was to create the Centre of Training and Development of Ex-Combatants (CEDAC).  In every step I had travelled, I realized that the creation of an organization would give me the ability to achieve the objective of building a better world.

Working with the project to fight landmines left from the war that the CIRID had conceived in collaboration with the Switzerland Foundation for Mine action, I noticed hundreds of ex combatants coming en mass to the Office of the CIRID looking for de-mining work.

In spite of the large number of people looking for work, only 24 were needed.  As former combatants and survivors, I felt that this non-negligible strength that had been used during a long war could be used to develop and rebuild Burundi.  It would serve as an example to discourage those politicians who wanted power by the way of weapons.  It would act as an example for all the rest of the population working in all initiatives that sought peace and struggled against poverty.

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