Living with invisible wounds
Urimwengu Claver was ordained as a Methodist Minister in 2022. Like so many in Burundi, he has lived with psychological trauma for decades. As he explains, “I have been preaching about repentance and reconciliation since 2012, but I have not spoken about the wound I had in my heart.”
Fleeing from torture and murder
When the Civil War started in 1993 Pastor Claver witnessed the murder of his cousin. A year later he was arrested and tortured with other young men. Some were killed but others, including Pastor Claver, escaped. Fearing for his life, he fled to Tanzania. He got married to Emmanueline whilst living as a refugee. Two weeks after their wedding, Pastor Claver returned to Burundi to fight as part of a rebel group. On one occasion, to stay alive, he spent three days hiding from his enemies amongst hundreds of dead bodies.
Suffering in silence
He told no one about his experiences – not even his wife. Emmanueline remembers, “His attitude was really scary because at night he always had nightmares. Sometimes he would run and I would find him behind the house hiding. He would tell me that he was answering a call from people inviting him to go and fight… he could spend two months without speaking.”
Healing trauma and pain
There is relative peace in Burundi today, but ordinary people still suffer the long-term impact of the war. For Burundi to move forward and flourish, these hidden wounds must be addressed. Cord’s project DUKOMEZE KUNYWANA – “Let’s strengthen reconciliation”, helps communities to process their painful past through training, discussions and drama workshops. Expert psychological support begins to address trauma, anxiety and depression.
Freedom for Pastor Claver
Pastor Claver says, “I thought it was all about haunting me with my dark past, like stirring the sword in a gaping wound. As time went by, I realised that by telling my story, I was relieving myself more and more. I no longer have that burden in my heart… It gave me the strength to forgive anyone who hurt me. Without this programme, I would have spent my whole life with the wounds of the past.”
Freedom for his family and community
For the first time in over 30 years, Pastor Claver is living in freedom. Emmanueline recognises the transformation. “I see that he has changed. He now laughs with our children. We get on well with each other.”
Pastor Claver and thousands like him can look forward to a brighter future. As he declares, “Yes, we have already benefitted from this project. We can also help others in the community to heal.”
Please donate today and help more people like Pastor Claver find healing and freedom. Help us build peace in more of the world’s most challenging communities.