David Zarembka, AGLI Coordinator
When AGLI began in 1998, it was clear that many American Quakers had
little knowledge or understanding of the conflicts in Rwanda, Burundi,
eastern Congo, Kenya, and
Uganda. Moreover there was little discussion of how the Quakers in the region
were impacted by events there and the peacemaking work that they were doing.
One of AGLI’s objectives became to educate Westerners and to promote greater
awareness of the African Great Lakes region of the world. When I thought about
this objective, I also wanted audience to hear the African voices. To this end,
AGLI has the following activities.
Speaking tours by African partners
Early in 2001, AGLI brought its first group of speakers to the United
States when Adrien Niyongabo, Charles Berahino, and Carolyn Keys (then
an AGLI volunteer) came to tell Americans about the trauma healing
work they were doing in Burundi. This tour was so successful that it
made me realize it was invaluable to bring our partners from Africa
to speak directly about their experiences. Since that time, AGLI has
organized twenty-six tours to the United States, two to England, and
one to Canada. We try to organize two or three speaking tours each
year. Our biggest problem has been to get our young African speakers
a visa to enter the country where they are supposed to speak. We have
failed four times in receiving the visa. At other times we have had
to postpone tours when the speaker was denied the visa, but later received
the visa. We learned that reapplying was sometimes a successful strategy.
From the first AGLI delegation in January 1999, AGLI has written reports of
its activities. These were sent to the donors to explain how their funding
was used. As time went on these reports became an outreach tool to inform
people of AGLI’s work and the issues in the region. Then in November
2003, Adrien Niyongabo and Peter Yeomans conducted an assessment of the Alternative
to Violence program in Rwanda: I Still Believe that There is Good in All
People. This was AGLI’s first substantial report. In winter of 2005,
AGLI published its first report as the new perodical of PeaceWays-AGLI. Since
that time AGLI has published two or three issues of PeaceWays-AGLI each year.
To subscribe, send your name and address to me at email@example.com.
In early 2007, my wife, Gladys, and I moved to Kenya. By this time, the world
of communication had changed so that email and the internet had become very
pervasive. In order to keep people more updated than a publication every
four to six months, I began writing Reports from Kenya via email. I covered
topics that I thought would interest people and also forwarded interesting
reports, testimonies, and activities from our African partners. I usually
posted something every week or so. During the post-election Kenyan violence
in January and February 2008, I wrote reports more frequently, sometimes
two or three per day. These were widely circulated as people appreciated
an alternative source from the mainstream media on what was occurring in
Kenya during that time. I have continued posting Reports from Kenya. If you
would like to sign up for this listserve, please send your name and email
to Dawn Rubbert at firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to give a more comprehensive presentation of what I have learned in
over forty years of working in this region, my children, Tommy and Joy Zarembka,
encouraged me to write a book. In April 2011, I published A Peace of Africa:
Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region. See www.davidzarembka.org to
obtain a copy. The peacemaking work that Quakers in Kenya did in 2008 after
the post-election violence is inspiring. An AGLI extended service volunteer,
Judy Lumb, has spent three months researching and writing on this activity.
By the time you receive this issue of PeaceWays-AGLI, Judy’s Ending
Cycles of Violence: Kenyan Quaker Peacemaking Response after the 2007 Election
will be available.
no longer ask me if Burundi is near Nepal or an island in the Pacific
Ocean. This outreach/awareness of the situation in
the Great Lakes region of
Africa and the extensive peacemaking work of the Quakers in the region has
been one of the significant achievements of AGLI. Quakers in the United States,
Canada, England, and elsewhere are much more knowledgeable and concerned.