1.    Please introduce yourself.

My name is Hermes NDABEMEYE from Muramvya province, in Kiganda commune. I finished University of Burundi in French Literature department. Today, it’s been 5 years since I started working for CEDAC, engaging in different kinds of projects, especially in psychosocial assistance project, in which I’m in charge of supervising the activities in Bujumbura province.

2. Please tell us your wartime experiences as an ex-combatant. (If possible

I joined armed movement, FNL (Forces Nationales de Liberation) movement, by force because they took me by force when rebels met me on the road after the attacks on Kanyosha and Musaga commune in 2003. I was unable to escape. I stayed in the army for 2 years. During that period, I participated in different fighting. Something that hurt my heart was that I fell in insecurity, when my chiefs changed, because they accused me, saying that I’m a Tutsi because of my physical characters. Many people were accused of collaborating with Tutsis and killed. They were called Ivyitso (Traitors).

Tired of the situation (killing people, being in insecurity all the time accused of being Tutsi, etc…) I decided to give up fighting and using my brain in proper ways in 2005. I didn’t see the real objective of the FNL movement because before they explained us that we were fighting for liberating the country, which was in hands of Tutsi, and that the country becomes in hands of Hutu by promoting the political mobilization of the CNDD-FDD (National Council for the Defense of Democracy- Forces for the Defense of Democracy). But the FNL didn’t joined in the process of peacebuilding for the country. Having returned to the community, I went back to school. And in 2008, I returned to the FNL only with the purpose of demobilization.  

3.    How did you know about CEDAC? How did you come to work at CEDAC?

 After being demobilized, all of my money was stolen by the one whom we were together in a bush. He was my really best friend. With that, all of my family members gave up on me. For that period, my heart was uncomfortable. So I decided to leave my family and I lived 3 months without my family knows where I was.

  Then I met Mr. Eric Niragira. I told him my history and how my family threatened me at home. He gave me advice, encouraging me to go back to school firstly and to visit him at the office. A year after, I recovered because of his advice. And he planned to reconcile me with my family. So I started working in CEDAC as a voluntary worker in 2010. Since then, after going through that hard situation in which I met Eric, I have been working for CEDAC. In addition, since I was an ex-combatant, he introduced me the program he offers for ex-combatants, and I agreed with the program. I admire him very much because I couldn’t have passed the hard time without his help. 

4.    What do you want to achieve at CEDAC?

 CEDAC has a mission. I want to achieve the mission of CEDAC, which is to fight against armed violence by developing capacity of war victims. I would really be happy when I see a great number of people who say this: “We have this good life. It is because CEDAC supported us”.

 I can’t leave this page without underlining that I thank AOAV (Action on Armed Violence) because with the Project of psychosocial assistance, ex-combatants like me got a chance of showing what their contribution could be in peacebuilding and realizing that as they contributed to destroying, they can also rebuild.   

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