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Burundi 2008-2009
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AYC - Amahoro Youth Club

Background letter to TFF’ Application
to the Folke Bernadotte Academy

Contact Information
Bujumbura – Burundi
Telephone/fax number  +257 79918869  +257 77793720


The Organisation

The mission of the AYC
Our mission is to contribute to solidifying peace and sustainable development through spaces of exchange among Burundian young people.

Our goals
- Search for and promotion of  reconciliation and peace in a broad manner
- Sustainable development for Burundi and all people living there
- Consciousness-raising among youth to fight against discrimination and promote human rights, gender equality and democracy
- Education efforts to empower civil society and youth  as a peace-builders
- Involvement of Burundian youth residing in Bujumbura, in the countryside and abroad in moral, economic and political reconstruction of the country;
- Re- establishment of the noble values of solidarity and mutual support focusing on the search of sustainable peace, development and democracy of the country;
- Creation of a context for expression and participation for the youth of Burundi and of the Diaspora to the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Why is it necessary to create a new organization?
Burundi experienced since independence a series of conflicts that raise high costs to its population. 65% of its population are young people. They have been used as an instrument of war by politicians. Some of those young died, others are actually handicapped. Many of them dropped their studies and went to fight against their brothers and sisters. A large number of youth of Burundi left their mother country toward Europe, particularly to Nordic countries. Those who continued education in Burundi are now often victims of unemployment; many lack hope for a better future.
But we, the young, don’t have to follow events and sit idle. We have to come together and work for peace and sustainable development through democratization and active participation. That is the solution for all Burundians. Each young person has to know that peace is his or her business, that he/she has to contribute to build this country. Through space of debates, participation, contribution of all young people, training, reinforcement of capacity and help to youth in need, we can change things in this country. That is the substance of being of the Amahoro Youth Club.
There are many civil society organizations in Burundi but, like in other post-war contexts and not only there, we see little integrated efforts and commitment to advance the concrete work for peace on the part of local organizations.  Also in the light of our cooperation with TFF, Sweden, whose support and inspiration is very important to us, we believe AYC can contribute three important things to the Burundian civil society:

  1. the energies and willingness of young people to work on the stability of our country. While we need and ask for support from external donors, we believe in and search for opportunities to fundraise in the country as well and have a vision to become financially sustainable in the future;
  2. the real motivation to work together with other organizations and plant the seeds of a social movement in Burundi  rather than compete for funds, social image etc;
  3. the commitment to work in a positive peace perspective, rather than subscribe to the dominant discourse focusing on violence and wrongs. We emphasize achievements, celebrating successes of our peace  process and our good stories  as well as advance concrete ideas for action in order to contribute to the a momentum for advancing on the road of stability and peace.

Who benefits primarily from our organization's activities?
Our main beneficiaries are young people who want to participate and contribute to peace and development in Burundi, a country in which the voice of young people does not yet have its place in the middle of politicians and other actors that take care of their interests.
All Burundians, potentially, will benefit from the AYC activities because the young of this country will get education through trainings , seminars, public meetings and dialogues that we expect to start organizing in a continuous and sustainable way in the coming years. We will thus contribute to educating future Burundian leaders that are rooted in needs of all  people and the desire to promote peace in our country.

Do we work with other youth organizations?
A number of our founding members and collaborators are active in other civil society organizations thus bringing in valuable experiences to our Club. We have the support and active participation of five representatives from the organizations initially included in the TFF initiated Amahoro Coalition  We are collaborating  actively with Génies en Herbes, a youth organization that organizes contests and educational activities for young people in secondary schools and other youth organizations.. Since June 2007, Génies en Herbe hosts meetings of the AYC around the topics of mission, plans, organizational structure and communication. Some of us are students from the private Lumiére University.
The AYC is in contact with the Association for the Promotion of the Burundian Girls “Association pour la Promotion de la Fille Burundaise”, a leading organization of young women in Burundi that works on gender and promotion of  women’s equality. They invited AYC founding members to participate in 1325 UN resolution seminars that they organized on 20-21th of March 2008.
The AYC plans to create a network of youth organizations through the web site that we are creating with the support of Jean Marie KAVUMBAGU, the leader of League des Droits de l'Homme dans la Région des Grands Lacs and former President of League Iteka.

Activities to develop the Club’s statutes and competences
The beginning. The idea of creating the Amahoro Youth Club was born in May 2007 by two students of Light University of Bujumbura, an organization member in the TFF Amahoro Coalition, who share the vision of Burundi achieving peace and sustainable development through democratizing activities by young Burundians. The need became evident in the Coalition meetings where young people did not have enough social space and power to contribute meaningfully their perspectives and energies and be listened to.
Founding and statutes. The idea developed and caught the attention of other young people from different Universities and organizations, part of the old Coalition and beyond. In November 2007, the founding members reached the number of 13 and they set up statutes that are currently in the process of legalization. They themselves support the fees that are asked during the process as well as other small organizational expenses.
Training. In November, the AYC with TFF’s Ina Curic organized a 3 days training seminars on the theme of  mobilization for social change. As a follow-up a two-days training seminar on formulating and deciding the AYC mission, management, communication strategies and organizational tools has been conducted by Jan Oberg and Ina Curic. 
Co-operation and openness. We are a youth organization but the AYC is open to any contribution and participation of all people  without any distinction of gender;  in particular we encourage young women to join.
We aim to work with any organization that has the same or complementary goals and view the relationship of peace, sustainable development and democratization the way we do.
Staff unpaid –volunteers and supporters. The AYC has a staff that responds to the regulations in the statutes. A Legal representative, Armand GIRAMAHORO, student at Light University of Bujumbura, a Vice Legal Representative, Jean Bosco BIGIRIMANA, student at the same university. There is a Treasurer, KAZE Lauriane, student at Light University of Bujumbura, a secretary, Tharcisse NDAYIZEYE, student at public University of Burundi. Landry NINTERETSE, educated in media and journalism, is in charge of communication.
All the founding members are volunteers. There is no paid staff. We count on attracting experienced people in NGOs management such as Jean Marie KAVUMBAGU from League Iteka who has already started to follow and support our improvement. TFF Associate Adolphe SURURU, a sociologist specialized in non-violent communication is also a resource that we count on in many of our activities.
Decision-making. As stated in AYC's statutes, the General Assembly is the ultimate organ of the Club and it includes all members, each having one equal vote. We adhere to the model of consensus in terms of making decisions. Since we are not a very big organization yet, we have the Board that makes sure that the decisions it takes are expressing and fulfilling all the members’ expectations.
TFF’s role. Ina Curic and Jan Oberg from TFF are our advisors. TFF has done so much in our country and through Jan Oberg’s course in peace studies and the meetings and seminars with the former Amahoro Coalition NGOs, we were inspired to start our Club last year when we felt that the NGO Coalition did not meet our wishes for change. We are very aware that we need more management skills, organizational competence, intellectual training and funds – and that is what our Action Plan below is all about.
Who benefits in our organization? We have shaped the Statutes of AYC as democratically as possible and plan discouraging any divide between core staff- new staff, staff-assisted persons or participants to our programs, board members-simple members or old and experience people and new people that want to join.
We want all young people, men and women,  that benefit from our activities to take an active stance regarding their personal lives and also the future directions, programs, ideas for AYC to engage in working towards.
We believe that an important strength resides in numbers as well as quality, so that in order to achieve the social change we want to bring about, it is essential to encourage as many young people as possible to enter, work for, and actively contribute to the vision of society AYC promotes. At the same time we will ensure that new members fully support our mission and aims.
There is no doubt that conflict will happen anyhow. That is why we are eager to learn more about conflict-analysis, -resolution, reconciliation and negotiation – skills we can use internally but also in our interactions with the surrounding society.


The projects and the activities

Activities  we require support for 
We want the Folke Bernadotte Academy grant to make a contribution that can cover a share of the realization of our Action Plan from June and 6-12 months ahead which amounts to a total of FrBu 39,358.000 or roughly US $ 33.930.

Description of the projects and social context
The AYC has an action plan that contains activities planned  in the period June 2008 to summer 2009. Those activities include:
• Setting up of an office for the Club,
• Participating in and organizing a series of trainings and seminars on  various themes: non- violent communication, education in peaceful resolution of conflicts, training on 1325 UN resolution, training on democracy, seminar on the role of young people in solidifying peace, seminar on transitional justice: truth and reconciliation commission in Burundi, seminar on the history of Burundian conflicts, seminar on a possible Burundian Youth Parliament,
• Fund-raising including obtaining donations locally plus developing all kinds of income-generation activities for each of our projects/events and trainings – thus an integrated approach aiming t self-reliance,
• Eventually the establishment of a multipurpose AYC Centre with facilities such as a cyber café, meeting rooms, NGO coordination, exhibitions etc. This is also where there could be computer skills training, not the least for teachers and youth, with an impact on the school sector.
The AYC aims to develop activities that are in the line of its mission: to contribute to the solidifying of peace and sustainable development. All these activities aim to involve young people to participate in the construction of Burundi, its peace process and its development. Young people should then break out of their silence and say “no” to the bad management we also find in this country, such as corruption, violence that are used to solve conflict and the lack of a good politic of employment and education. There are many constructive and positive alternatives to say yes to and to work for their creation.
We who belong to the young generation have been taught that the only reason of war in Burundi was ethnic conflict. But we do not believe that ethnicity explains everything, far from it. All people who died were victims of this distorted view, misused as a major instrument of politicians.
The goal of these trainings and seminars – and the Centre - is to remind young people and all the community that they have the right to and have the power of changing things and make the best out of this country’s potentials. But our tools shall be exclusively the broad reservoir of non-violent means, active civil society participation and democracy. Through debates and dialogues, young people can then discover their potential and by this put their energies together to build this country.
We have a right to a future without violence – war and sexual abuse not the least - discrimination, human rights violations and mismanagement of public funds.
Through visits throughout the country, the AYC aim to give opportunity to young people who are cut off from technologies and updated knowledge to see that they haven't been born and raised for living in poverty and ignorance but that they are like other young people who were born in towns and benefit then of a good environment of education and democratization.
The AYC will attract more and more young people to adhere to the mission and goals of the Club. With this, a strong movement of young people through and around Burundi can see the day and promotes a good leadership in the future. It can help to create a coherent society in the future because this generation should have prepared the ground.
Through these activities, more people than at present will then re-find hope, see that Burundi is still alive through young people’s commitment. The government and any other actor in this country will see how important it is to have youth organization that deals with the real matters such as lack of peace and lack of sustainable development. Even if we do not have education like in Europe, young people shall not be considered as ignorant or treated like babies.

Aim of the projects and activities
Each activity has its own aim but common for them all is that young women and men will at the end of each activity have obtained a better capacity to exploring their potentials and then be capable to contribute and participate to building the country. Young people shall find a space in which they are in harmony with themselves and in which they can discuss without fear of anyone. They will then develop their expression and will join their energies to activate their potentials to solidify peace and sustainable development.


The specific objectives

• To create new spaces of exchange among young people and enable them to participate in peace building and sustainable development in a qualified manner.
• To consolidate a team of young people determined to pool their energies in order to build Burundi. 
• To give to young people knowledge that can help them to live a harmonious life in the society.
• From Day One make sure that the AYC will not be one more project in the capital of Bujumbura and those who already live a relatively privileged life there but that we will reach out to all young people all over the country. In this alone, the AYC represent a new type of initiative. That’s why most of the trainings are placed outside Bujumbura. 

Target groups of the project
The AYC Action Plan is open to young people from Universities, from high schools of Bujumbura. It is open also to young people in the countryside, especially those from Gitega, Ngozi, Ruyigi, and Muramwiya who do not normally get opportunities to participate in debates and public dialogues in order to develop their potential and who do not have the opportunity to be in touch with technologies. Educated young people are the main target due to their potential that they have yet.

How will a grant help us?

A start-up grant will help us to set up the AYC activities and attract the attention of all the Burundians and parts of the regional and international community. It will provide concrete activities, mobilization of energy, more members, larger future activities and thereby help us finance future activities through income-generating aspects of these activities. When we show good results, many more wealthy Burundians will probably assist us with donations – since most people see the merits of “investing in the younger generation”.
Although we have already financed some of our activities out of our own pockets and will continue to do so, we need an economic base for some months on which to build the dream we have, including the AYC Centre for peace education in a wider sense.


Would you like to support the AYC?

Then please make a donation to TFF here




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