She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
See also the WSF World Social Forum 2007, Kenya.
She says: “I know no greater joy than meeting a friend whom I had believed was dead”.
Léonie Barakomeza – Burundi
She works for Twishakira amahoro, and for Search for Common Ground Burundi.
After civil war had broken out in Burundi, Léonie Barakomeza founded ? together with former Hutu neighbor Yvonne Ryakiye and other women ? the self-help organization Twishakira amahoro, which means ?We want peace?. The women of the peace organisation have helped in reconstructing war-damaged houses.
Over time, the river Kanyosha has dug a deep gorge through the fertile hills of Bujumbura. An equally deep rift of fear and hatred hindered the people living on its banks to use the shallow ford near Busoro.
Léonie Barakomeza, born in 1946, was one of the Tutsis who was driven out of her village of Musaga by marauding Hutus because she was a Tutsi.She and her family were forced to flee across the river when the slaughter began in 1994.
The warring parties entrenched themselves on either side of the river, which was considered a natural boundary. But Leonie refused to accept the situation of mounting tension, and she and her former neighbour, Yvonne Ryakije dared to cross the river and visit each other. This break of a strong taboo was the first step to a rapprochement of the warring parties.
When they remained unharmed, other people followed their example. ?Our men didn?t like this,? remembers Léonie, ?but when they saw that the Hutu women brought us food and that we started to repair our houses together, they accepted our action.?
Together with Ryakiye and other women, she founded the self-help organisation ?Twishakira amahoro?, which means, ?We want peace?. Thanks to their initiative, the Tutsi and Hutu refugees were able to return to their villages, where the women of the peace organisation help them reconstruct their war-damaged houses.
Léonie says, ?There is still a lot to do. Human rights are not respected in Burundi; people starve or are robbed and murdered.? Her vision is that peace will one day prevail in Burundi. Although she knows that this goal is still far from being achieved she is no longer afraid. (Read all on 1000peacewomen 2005).
She says also: “I used to live in Kabezi and visit my brother in Musaga. It was during these visits that I would see his Nicodème. He was living close to my brother. I got to know his children. They would come to me and say, “Grandma, give us water, give us food.” When the crisis started in 1993, I had to flee Kabezi and found refuge in my brother’s home. I am still living there, in Musaga. In 1994 the crisis intensified and the situation was worsening. The Hutu were being killed like goats in the slaughterhouse. One day five young men came to our neighbourhood. They brought a container filled with fuel. They came to burn Nicodème and his children in their house”. Burundi Voices.
And she says: All the problems that happened in Burundi have touched me. The killings did not begin in 1993. They happened before. They happened in 1972 and in 1988. I saw it all and whenever possible, I have tried to save people. Burundi Voices.
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