Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Grassroots Reconciliation Initiatives in the Great Lakes Region

I will be using my Pickett Grant to conduct a mapping of reconciliation efforts in the African Great Lakes Region. I currently live in Rwanda, where I volunteer for the African Great Lakes Initiative. My work in Rwanda is twofold: to help AGLI construct children’s libraries around the country, and to facilitate reconciliation/trauma healing workshops and youth conflict resolution workshops in the north of Rwanda.

About my project:
The Great Lakes Region of Africa, home to a large percent of the world’s Quaker population, has seen widespread conflict throughout the past twenty years. In the wake of these conflicts (or, in the DR Congo’s case, during the conflict), Quakers have aided broken communities and families with small-scale reconciliation efforts. This work, often locally initiated, has for the most part been neither documented nor coordinated on a regional level. I am using my Pickett Grant to travel around Rwanda, Burundi, and possibly the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (security situation pending) to meet with local Quaker groups carrying out reconciliation and/or healing work.

I will use my Pickett Grant to help with/visit workshops and programming conducted by these groups. Through shared work and interviews, I will document and map the work that has been done and gain a sense of what work remains. I plan to create a report based on this mapping that can be distributed to various Quaker groups, both grassroots and international.

While larger international groups (such as the African Great Lakes Initiative and Change Agents for Peace International) have done extensive work in the region and have the ability to disseminate information to the Quaker world at large, my experience working in Rwanda in 2009 and 2011 taught me there are many small, unrecognized, grassroots Quaker groups and initiatives. Good lines of communication between grassroots organizations and international Quakers are critical, as international groups often have the resources to support local work and to share message and experience. Communication is equally important among grassroots organizations themselves. Documenting and publicizing this work will have obvious benefits. By improving communication and respecting the insight of local Quaker communities, I hope efforts can be knitted together for greater efficacy.

 -Kirsten Mandala


  1. Thank you for your blog submission! I will be interested to hear of your progress... M Moyer

  2. Can't wait to see the mapping. It will be great to have!