The Great Lakes Peacebuilding Initiative (GLPI) was founded in 2004 by three local organizations in Burundi, Rwanda, and Eastern Congo with the support of MCC. These were Ministry for Peace and Reconciliation under the Cross (MIPAREC) in Gitega, Burundi; Friends Peace House (FPH) in Kigali, Rwanda; and Council for Peace and Reconciliation (COPARE) in Bukavu, Eastern Congo. GLPI is now an independent organization registered in Burundi and governed by a board made up of its founding organizations.
GLPI intervenes through 3 main channels, namely:
1. GL Peacebuilding Institute: The GL Peacebuilding Institute is a bilingual (French and English) training institute which offers high quality intensive courses on peacebuilding, conflict transformation, trauma healing, and organizational and community development to peace and development practitioners from the African Great Lakes region and beyond.
The Peacebuilding Institute courses are facilitated by experienced international faculty. These experts have a diverse range of peacebuilding skills and experiences, and use participatory, interactive, and creative teaching methods to stimulate meaningful learning and listening environments for participants.
2. Support for Alumni Initiatives: After their GLPI training, alumni organize themselves locally into cooperative chapters through which they can more effectively initiate actions for peace within their local communities. Through these alumni chapters GLPI can continues to support the initiatives catalyzed by the trainings. Several GLPI chapters already exist in Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC. GLPI’s alumni network is currently made up of about 450 peacebuilders in the Great Lakes region and beyond.
3. Research and publications: GLPI, in collaboration with its professors, partners, laureates, and other peace universities, conducts research on various topics related to peace and conflict transformation, designs training modules, and disseminates publications based on the testimonies and experiences of peacemakers.
GLPI envisions the African Great Lakes region as a space where a culture of solidarity and sustainable and development can be developed and nurtured. To achieve this vision, GLPI commits to bringing peacebuilders in the region closer together by strengthening their capacities, sharing best practices, and exchanging experiences through theoretical and practical courses, all with the goal of building active networks of change agents.
GLPI has grown institutionally over the past five years. In October 2019 it added a community and organizational development track to the annual October Institute to complement the existing peacebuilding track, which proved very successful. Unfortunately, in 2020 the COVID pandemic and related travel restrictions meant the October Institute could not be held. This caused a reorientation towards online training and communication, a new methodology that needs further development and is expected to continue in some form even if/when annual in-person Institutes can resume. GLPI has also been developing relationships with other INGOs to expand the base of partners who sponsor participants in GLPI trainings, a task that needs ongoing attention.
The work of the MCC Burundi Peacebuilding Coordinator involves organizational development and the fostering of positive learning environments, as well managing publicity and logistics. She/he oversees the work of building and maintaining partnerships, designing courses, recruiting participants, hiring faculty, managing training sessions, participation in board meetings, and developing and implementing strategies for GLPI’s institutional growth. The COVID pandemic highlighted the need to expand training via distance learning courses, so the coordinator will plan and help implement new online offerings. If the MCC service worker has an MA in a relevant field, she/he may also facilitate or teach courses herself/himself. The MCC service worker supervises the Secretary-Accountant of GLPI in collaboration with the GLPI director.
In his/her wider complementary role, the Burundi Peacebuilding Coordinator will support MCC’s peacebuilding work not only in Burundi, but also in the Great Lakes region and across the continent. This includes supporting regional reconciliation and peacebuilding networks; supporting peace clubs and other community peacebuilding infrastructure; and coordinating with other MCC Africa peacebuilding staff to expand and deepen the impact of MCC-supported peace work on the continent.
This assignment presents an opportunity for an MCC service worker to learn about local, regional, and continental peacebuilding efforts from MCC partners with decades of grassroots peacebuilding experience, while also contributing valued expertise. Because GLPI serves the region, the service worker will have frequent opportunities to travel and build networks throughout the Great Lakes region (assuming COVID travel restrictions ease over the next year.) These networking efforts can complement efforts to expand the base of sponsors for GLPI participants as noted above.
In addition to the MCC service worker in Gitega, the MCC Rwanda/Burundi team includes two additional service workers and a national staff person in Bujumbura, where the MCC Burundi office is located (a two-hour drive from Gitega). The MCC Representatives for the R/B program live in Kigali, Rwanda, a five-hour drive from Gitega. At the Kigali office there are two national staff, and there are usually two or three SALTers also located in Kigali. When travel restrictions are not in place, MCC R/B meets three times a year, twice for team gatherings and once for a partner gathering.