I am pleased to share with you that in Gitega, Burundi, we are continuing the project to plant Artemisia, a medicinal plant used for preventing and curing malaria. I am working in collaboration with Fr. Bernard Lesay, a missionary in Africa, as well as agronomists and farmers in Gitega. Additionally, I am part of a network called ‘La Maison de l’Artemisia’ (www.maison-artemisia.org), which conducts awareness-raising workshops in 28 African countries.

In Gitega, I am involved in the ‘Ecole Sociales and the Ecole d’Art’, where the pupils are boarders. The entire educational community is engaged, and they have provided us with land for cultivation. Each school year, together with the pupils and teachers, we plant Artemisia seeds prepared by the farmers. After four months, we harvest enough Artemisia for the whole year. The pupils and teachers consume the tea three times a week to strengthen their immune systems and prevent malaria. We have observed improvements in the pupils’ health as well as their academic results.

Another objective is for the pupils to disseminate what they learn at school. During Christmas and Health Week holidays, they promote Artemisia by distributing seeds to their families and parishes across various regions of Burundi.

The headmaster of the ‘Ecole Sociale’ has established an environmental club. Together with the pupils, they craft pots from banana leaves and organic materials. They also contribute funds to pot the Artemisia plants and transport them from the nursery to the schools. This initiative fosters cooperation and fraternity for the common good and the population’s health.

This year, in collaboration with the ‘Maison de Artemisia’, we initiated a new experiment: feeding Artemisia to cows, rabbits, and chickens. We have observed improvements in their health and growth. This development is promising as livestock rearing contributes to the economy and the schools’ self-financing.

Currently, we are preparing a workshop to encourage pupils to plant Moringa trees. Moringa leaves are rich in nutrients such as iron, calcium, potassium, vitamins, and proteins. Our goal is to enhance nutrition and promote reforestation. Sister Marie Ange Ndayishimiye, who visited from Mauritania, assisted in preparing the seeds in banana-leaf pots for distribution to schools. Sharing these seeds, harvested from our garden trees, brings us great joy as Marie Ange takes them back to Mauritania, her mission country.

We express gratitude to God for the blessings of Creation and join in prayer for our Earth, as expressed in Laudato Si’: “God, you who surround all that exists with your tenderness, pour out the strength of your love on us so that we may protect life and beauty.”

Peace is Indeed Achievable

One of the apostolates undertaken by the Butare community is a six-month tailoring course. This course is offered to young women and men who have dropped out of school due to various reasons. Some young women left due to childbirth, while others stopped attending due to different circumstances. The first group completed the course last year, with nine of them receiving district-recognized certificates. Another group commenced in November and will finish the program in May.

The aim is to equip students with tailoring skills to support their livelihoods and improve their living standards. Besides tailoring, the community aims to enhance their moral values. We started conducting talks with them on Fridays, choosing topics based on their needs for a better future. One of the themes shared by Sister Leocadie with the students was “Peace is Possible.”

She began by exploring with the students how peace is achievable, using illustrations depicting the need for everyone’s contribution. In conclusion, the group acknowledged that peace is attainable if each person contributes according to their particular gifts. The students mentioned that this topic helped them understand conflict resolution, emphasizing the importance of dialogue.

They also learned about the sources of conflict, including conflicting needs and desires without considering others, as well as conflicting intentions without communication. To resolve such conflicts, they emphasized the importance of dialogue. The students added that peace can be achieved through collaborative efforts.

Learning these peace-building principles will help the youth navigate conflicts and behave appropriately in different situations. It will also aid in resolving conflicts within their families and society by fostering dialogue, as they recognized the importance of discussing issues openly.

The topic of peace is significant in other groups we support across Rwanda, where members come together to improve their livelihoods. They contribute funds weekly, borrow from each other, and repay with interest, enabling them to address family needs and engage in small businesses. We provide them with knowledge deemed essential for their family lives and learn from their experiences, including conflict resolution.

Addressing conflicts in families holds a crucial place in life. In one women’s group, members discussed their family conflicts and how they resolve them. Many emphasized the importance of initiating conversations and choosing the right time for dialogue. Sharing their experiences with each other helps alleviate their burdens and initiates the reconciliation process. One participant shared how seeking advice from a priest helped her reconcile with her husband, highlighting the significance of seeking external support.

In general, discussing issues encourages individuals not to internalize conflicts but to seek solutions through dialogue.

Sr. Maité Nshimirimana, MSOLA (Oiartzun, Gitega) and Sr. Priscille Nisubire, MSOLA (Butare)