Burundi Peace Quilts

Posted on 8th July 2019

The Burundi Peace Quilts are created as a healing art project for women who are victims of torture and sexual violence.

They have been made through the assistance of Peace Through Pieces, an outreach project run by North Seattle Friends Church, in conjunction with Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services of Burundi (THARS) and Friends in Burundi, and Congo Yearly Meetings.

Patty Federighi, Director of Quilting Ministries for the North Seattle Friends, explains:

“We started working with THARS about six years ago after an initial visit to Burundi to see if the women were interested in learning quilt making and to find out if the materials and supplies needed for quilt making were available in this extremely poor country.  Both questions were answered with a resounding ‘Yes!'”

Central Africa has suffered decades of war-torn fighting and an estimated 1 in 5 people have directly had violence inflicted upon them, the majority women. To make the programme self-sufficient sowing machines and thread have been supplied as well as other craft tools and materials. This is so the women can make and sell their own items.

Quakers in Africa

Before the 20th century Quakerism had a scattered history in Africa. Cape Town Meeting, South Africa was founded in 1728 by Friends from London Yearly Meeting, but it would be nearly two centuries later before Quakerism took hold in the continent.

In April 1902, Cleveland Meeting in the United States sent three Friends to set sail from New York to Mombassa, Kenya, in East Africa. Once they landed in Mombassa, the three friends and then by rail to the end of the line in what is now Kisumu, Kenya. Upon arriving in Kisumu they sought out the advice of the British colonial administration on where local people had not heard the gospel.

The three Friends were pointed northwards to a steep escarpment that led to a settlement in a rain-forest that became known as Kaimosi. By the end of summer, the Friends had founded a mission. Until then, there had been a few Quakers scattered across the African continent. The mission in Kenya would be the beginning of Quakerism’s growth in Africa.

In 1941, a hospital was built alongside the mission and the following year, The Friends Bible Institute launched. Quakerism was taking root across the country and there was expansion with with an epilepsy colony, an agricultural college and a college of technology all being established, as well as many new churches. Quakerism, by now, was spreading to the neighboring East African countries of Uganda and Tanzania.

Like Philidelphia in the United States and Lancanshire in England, in present day, Kaimosi remains the historic centre of Quakerism in Africa. There are around 300,00 Friends across the world and over a third live in Kenya with Kaimosi having the greatest concentration. Unlike in the West where numbers are in steep decline the number of Quakers in Africa is growing, as shown by the number of countries with meetings, which are:

  • Burundi
  • Congo
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Kenya
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

The majority of African meetings are programmed, however, Cape Town Meeting remains unprogrammed in keeping with its British roots.


Image from northseattlefriends.org/

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