By Furaha Soleil, President of the Women's Union for Peace in Burundi
"Buterere is a neighborhood located in north of Bujumbura, capital of Burundi... this is the least urbanized area, with the poorest people. A dozen women gathered near the Ajeca school; they are idle; they have nothing to do; they did not hope to eat today... They chat sadly... their future is bleak... they are there...”
"The past of each of these women is loaded, sad and disgusting... Four of them were raped during the war, three were violently repudiated by their husbands, one was accused of witchcraft and driven out by parents, two have fled their homes because of abuse... two are affected by AIDS... and all are poorly dressed… tired of life…
"These women are gathered by Union des Femmes pour la Paix (UFP). They form with fifty other women the UFP section of Buterere. They are the ones who go to work in our pilot project "Two red beads, one Human Heart." The funds that will come from this work will be used to buy them land to cultivate, seeds, some clothes and mobilize a teacher to teach them to read.”
The nongovernmental organization Women’s Union for Peace in Burundi was started by Furaha Soleil, who graduated in business studies and worked in a food company. She left her job and now devotes herself full time to the NGO and the mission of promoting peace in Burundi. The International Cities of Peace campaign, Two Red Beads, one Human Heart™, has provided much needed help for the women who make wristbands as a gift for donors.
The campaign has delivered ten hoes for their gardens, paid leases on land to cultivate, bought medicines for their wounds and paid for doctors visits. They now have a computer for their office and rent for housing and fees for their children’s school. The Two Red Beads, One Human Heart project is part of the city-to-city approach for two-way communication and support between cities of peace. The campaigns from International Cities of Peace are a direct way to meet the needs of women and children at risk who often fall between the cracks of major NGOs and national aid programs.
"This is also the promotion of perfect peace,” adds Soleil, “a peace which provides joy, a global peace that shares happiness, because Bujumbura as an International Cities of Peace gives peace that frees women. Thank you. Best wishes."
Furaha Soleil is president of Women Union for Peace. She graduated in business studies and worked in the food industry before leaving the company to devote herself to the NGO and the welfare of abused and ostracized women and children in Burundi.
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This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 11: International Cities of Peace - 1000 by 2020