Nearly every visitor to Amani Kenya is introduced to the Unity Quilt — a literal and figurative tapestry of peace, depicting peace-making practices from several ethnic traditions represented at Amani. Until recently, the ladies at Amani’s centers in Rwanda & Burundi had no such illustration of peace.
In July, two American volunteers visited these centers to walk the ladies there through the creative process for their own Unity Quilts. Unlike any other project, it was a rich and deeply meaningful opportunity to reflect on peace from above.
The ladies of Amahoro Rwanda and Amahoro Burundi would like to share with you the meaning of their Unity Quilts and the peace they symbolize.
Amahoro ava Hejuru
In the past, our peace was stolen by the war. The country was torn apart and our lives were torn apart. Yet the country that was torn apart is now joined together again.
The ladies at Amahoro have come together from different backgrounds, but we are joined together here. We share our lives. As we sew together, we share our lives. It is like we are drinking juice from the same pot.
We learn to give and receive peace as shown by the giving and receiving of the basket of peace — a traditional Rwandan gift. “You don’t give gifts to people with whom you have a problem. The giving and receiving of gifts is a sign of peace,” said Jeanne.
We have found higher peace at Amahoro ava Hejuru, which is the peace of God. That is why this Amahoro lady is dancing with joy and pointing to the cross.
Amahoro ava Mw’Ijuru
There has been war for many years in Burundi. The people lived in fear and had no hope for the future. They did not engage in usual life activities, because they were busy fighting and hiding. Now people are learning to live their lives together again.
The tree symbolizes of the reconciliation process — talking together and learning to trust one another. Three women represent the ethnic communities of Burundi engaging in everyday activities: farming, carrying a baby, and preparing food.
Here at Amahoro, we have learned to live together. We share our work, and we share the fruit of our work with each other.
The most important part of our lives here at Amahoro is that we have found to source of true peace under the cross. Here, the Amahoro lady is dancing.
The new quilts in both Rwanda and Burundi now hang in the rooms where the women gather daily for prayer, singing, tea, and reflection. Their story of unity is a flame of peace for all in Rwanda and Burundi to see.
“Here in Rwanda, women have a big responsibility to build peace. They bear the burden of the lack of peace. They and their children suffer most when there is no peace. You cannot dance when you have no peace. But the peace of Christ is an enduring peace.”
-Florence from Amahoro Rwanda
Indeed, a woman without peace cannot dance.
But the women of Amahoro have found peace. And so they dance.
And to welcome their new Unity Quilt, dance they did!