Since gaining its independence in 1962, Burundi has known a cycle of violence characterized by interethnic wars, civil wars and a succession of governmental dictatorships and militaries resulting from coup d’états until 1993. Following the assassination of the first democratically elected president in 1993, a civil war broke out over the country and provoked enormous consequences on the degradation of life, such as the installation of displaced persons camps and regroupment camps in the interior of the country, and the massive departure of refugees into neighboring and distant countries, etc.
MIPAREC was founded in 1996 by the alumni of a two-month advanced course in peaceful conflict resolution and integrated development. The course was organized by the Evangelical Friends Church (EEA)(Quakers) under the financing of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). It is during this training organized at the height of the crisis in 1996 (the closing day, there were massacres of 300 Tutsis at the Bugendana displaced persons camp and in revenge, of 100 Hutu students at the Zege-ISA campus) that a vision developed within the team. The principle question was to know what to do after the training and with the knowledge gained. During the break times (the alumni were residing there) , the team began to write different ideas and create a plan and structure.
Note that Mr. Levy NDIKUMANA and Mr. Dieudonné KIBINAKANWA were already accompanying the first team of MCC volunteers for two years (1994-1995). In order to achieve its mission, in 1997, MIPAREC began the first activities of creating peace committees (PC) (Mutaho, Nyabihanga, support of the Kibimba PC was in place since 1994). There were also the first activities of working with youth in Buhiga and in Gitega city. MIPAREC was accompanied since 1997 by MCC as the first financial donor and by the volunteer Ms. Bridget Butt who did the first capacity-building.
In 1998, the activities spread into several schools, churches and even further to Butezi (Ruyigi). It is in Butezi that for the first time, the team stopped and was imprisoned. It was a difficult time to preach mediation as the way to come out of the Burundian crisis. But, MIPAREC was teaching these tools as the best solution.
MIPAREC did the first couples retreat in 1999. The idea was to make their spouses aware of the delicate work that they were doing, the purchase of the first minibus and the opening of an office at the EEA in Magarama. It should be noted that until then, MIPAREC was working in village of Kwibuka in a small house with three rooms. The founding team was composed of members animated by a sacrificial spirit and volunteerism, who focus on social aspects in order to help the marginalized. They used their own means, without salaries, without equipment yet the impact of their work echoed throughout the entire world. It is for this reason that new partners began supporting MIPAREC in 2000. MIPAREC was later supported by Quaker Service Norway (CAPP). Little by little, MIPAREC developed partnerships with non-governmental organizations such as Oxfam GB, CARE International and Africare.
The team grew and new members joined between 2002 and 2004. There was also capacity-building through the participation of members in international courses in Zambia, South Africa, Germany, etc. As a result of the capacity developed, MIPAREC was opened to the world and its personnel were solicited by NGOs for trainings in the sub-regions. MIPAREC did several consultancies in Rwanda, DRC and of course in Burundi. It is with the funds earned from the consultancies that a peace center was built.
Since 2005, MIPAREC has initiated projects of great importance such as entering into a partnership with WFD, and in these last few years, with new organizations in this case ICCO, ZOA and KNH who have come to greatly support certain programs at MIPAREC.
Across the world, MIPAREC has also developed relationships with other networks such as the Coalition pour la Paix en Afrique (COPA), Action for Conflict Transformation (ACT), Africa Great Lakes Initiatives (AGLI) , American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) , Quaker Peace Network (QPN) and Great Lakes Initiative (GLI) . But also, MIPAREC collaborate with other organizations like Friends Peace House House in Rwanda (Urugo rw’amahoro) and COPARE in Congo.
MIPAREC has also carried out important programs as a local partner to GTZ Allemagne through its large project called APRS: Appui au Programme Burundais de Réinsertion et de Réintégration des Sinistrés (Support to the Burundian Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Victims Program). It has operated consultancies on diverse subjects beside other interveners like Oxfam GB in Rwanda, GTZ through the program PSAP: Programme de Sécurité Alimentaire et Paix (Food Security and Peace Program), World Vision , Tearfund,, EIRENE Nduwamahoro and more.
MIPAREC has become a nursery for peacebuilders through the training center that it has established, but also an organization for accompanying communities in the peacebuilding process.
MIPAREC helps in the creation and support of local peace initiatives and community rebuilding through peace committees, solidarity groups called « Self Help Groups » and other groups or clubs. It offers teaching through seminars and workshops in which community representatives, administrative and political authorities, military, and representatives of civil society participate in order to discuss their role in the construction of the country and support sustainable peace and development.
During a capacity-building training for personnel directed by Richard Smith and financed by ICCO, MIPAREC developed and adopted their own principles which have also become guidelines for conduct. These principles are as follows:
- If you don’t know how things work or you don’t understand, it is your responsibility to ask;
- Your actions should reflect that values of a pacifist in all that you ask;
- Unity between the personnel is of great importance;
- If there is a mistake, we should correct it together, openly and as soon as possible;
- Change begins with us, spreads in others and in the promotion of a culture of peace
- Work together without suspicion;
- Dialogue all the time and resist all that can divide us;
- Delight in what we do
- Speak the truth, persevere and share feelings;
- Help where there is need