Xaverian Center in Burundi Wins an "Alternative Nobel"

Aims for Peace in Troubled Region

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BUJUMBURA, Burundi, DEC. 16, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Xaverian Fathers’ Centre Jeunes Kamenge here has received an award from the Right Livelihood Award Administration for its efforts for peace among ethnic groups in central Africa.

The Right Livelihood Award Administration (http://www.rightlivelihood.se) was set up in 1980 through an endowment provided by Swedish-German author and statesman Jakob von Uexkull, and announces its awards in Sweden every year.

The Xaverian center received the award, affectionately known as the “alternative Nobel prize,” last Tuesday in Stockholm’s Parliament.

The center members were recognized “for their exemplary and indomitable courage and compassion, which have proved that, even after nine years of murderous civil war, young people from different ethnic groups can learn to live and build a future together in peace and harmony.”

Founded in 1991 by Xaverian missionaries, the center is a meeting place for young people of various ethnic backgrounds, social classes, countries and religions, ranging in age from 16 to 30. Located in an area devastated by the war, the center itself was endangered.

The missionaries, however, were not discouraged, and through cultural and sports activities, as well as programs of reconstruction and socially useful works during summer holidays, worked for reconciliation and peace.

“The award … recognizes the work of the center for peace, dialogue and reconciliation, work which is not accepted by everyone,” its director, Father Claudio Marano, told Vatican Radio.

“Almost every day, people from abroad come to visit us, but to give us an award means we are recognized at the official and international level as valid peace workers,” he said. “The greatest challenge in Burundi, for foreigners as for natives, has been to embrace diversity.”

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