Go forth and Prosper: African peacemaker Prosper Ndabishuriye to share story in Beaufort

abredeson@islandpacket.comMay 2, 2014 

Pictured are Mike Seymour of Compassionate Beaufort Communities, former Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire and Prosper Ndabishuriye, founder of Youth in Reconstruction of the World in Destruction.

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    African peacemaker Prosper Ndabishuriye will speak at 11 a.m. May 4 at St Mark's Episcopal Church, 1110 A Paris Ave., Port Royal and at 1 p.m. May 6 at the Beaufort library, 311 Scott. St., Beaufort. Both events are free and open to the public.

Out of the ashes of the tragic ethnic wars in Burundi, Rwanda and Eastern Congo, Africa, came a group called Jeunesse en Reconstruction du Monde en Destruction. In English: Youth in Reconstruction of the World in Destruction.

A Burundian man named Prosper Ndabishuriye created the nonprofit organization in 1994, after three months of genocide.

"I had a troubling question in my heart, asking myself what I could do to save the lives of those innocent people," Ndabishuriye said.

He decided to launch this organization to promote peace between the two ethnic groups -- the Hutu and Tutsi people -- and to help the victims get back on their feet.

The organization helps by rebuilding homes, and by caring for the people affected by the fighting, particularly orphans and widows.

Prior to his current role, Ndabishuriye was the Burundian national director for Campus Crusade for Christ.

Ndabishuriye will be in Beaufort on May 4 to speak about his ministry at St Mark's Episcopal Church in Port Royal. He will speak again May 6 at the Beaufort library. Both events are free and open to the public.

Ndabishuriye also will visit with some of the younger people in Beaufort: fifth-grade students at Beaufort Elementary School.

He hopes to teach people about Burundi and what he has done to help. He wants to inspire, challenge and transform those who hear his story.

"Building peace is a walk that we do together, not for one person," Ndabishuriye said. "And it's possible. They will learn from me that big vision requires big dreams, and big dreams require big actions, and big actions require big commitment. Commitment requires courage and patience. ... And courage and patience never fail."

As he has served his country for the past 20 years, Ndabishuriye said he has learned there is great joy in serving others. Serving is a privilege, and it brings hope.

"My dream is to make Africa smile again," he said. "It is possible."

Ndabishuriye is being brought to the Lowcountry by the Compassionate Beaufort Communities project, which educates people about the importance of compassion.

Mike and Maggie Seymour of Compassionate Beaufort Communities will host Ndabishuriye during his stay in Beaufort. The Seymours have worked with him in the past.

"He is a true leader, a rare human being, and I like to think of him as a Nelson Mandela of Central Africa," Mike Seymour said about Ndabishuriye.

Follow reporter Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.

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