1.   Please introduce yourself.

My name is Nibigira Joel. I am twenty-nine years old. I was born in the eastern part of Burundi; a commune and province of Ruyigi in Rukaragata village. I was born of semi-intellectual parents with different ethnicities.    

2.    What do you want to achieve at CEDAC?

I lived in Tanzania for nine years with a refugee status. When I was in second form arts (in 2002), with other hundreds of youth, I was kidnapped and taken into a bush by CNDD-FDD. I experienced three violent military trainings in which many young boys and girls perished. The trainings were hold in the daytime while the nighttime was preserved for fighting. We made long foot journeys from south to east, east to the Kibira national reserve passing in many central provinces. We were carrying and distributing arms and weapons to troop stations throughout the country. In these ‘rebel military mobility’, the national army targeted authorities of these rebel groups and so many of us were captured or killed. They were deadly missions. I observed a lot of armed violence and discovered that the place was not the right one for me because violence dominated the decision-making process. During my childhood, I had set a clear vision; to become a teacher or a journalist that would convey ‘a man of society’ as a status to me. I have always believed that developing programs for fighting against HIV/AIDS and standing for human rights would be very helpful to my community. Having gone through this hard situation hurt me so much but it helped me know how bad violence is.

3.   Please tell me a bit about your war-time experience as an ex-combatant. (If possible)

During the armed movements we had a chance to talk to political mobilizers and other civilians attached to our movement. I was then in Muramvya when I met Eric Niragira, the founder of CEDAC. He analyzed me and asked me how I was feeling to be in that situation and if I am proud of what I was doing. I didn’t respond to him because I didn’t know who he was and why he asked such questions. I left the place thinking why he asked the questions. 5 years later, I met him in Bujumbura. I did not remember him but he explained the situation where we met. He asked me if I had been a soldier or a policeman, and I said no. I explained that I escaped after a cease-fire because military was not a profession that I want to pursue. He introduced to me his vision and the organization he founded. I got interested and accepted to join and work to achieve CEDAC’s vision. I started working as a volunteer in communication. After successfully attended a number of trainings in the field of peer support, I was appointed to be a supervisor of psychosocial assistance and the operations coordinator of the psychosocial assistance project run by CEDAC.    

4.   How did you know about CEDAC? How did you come to work at CEDAC?

At CEDAC, I want to help people who survived armed violence recover from catastrophic experiences. Transforming the society and establishing a society based on human rights and respect to others are the best strategy to peace and sustainable development.


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