The Story of Benjamin
As told to John Julius Wandera
September 14, 2009
Burundi - As a project supervisor for Right To Play, Nzobonankira Benjamin believes that the best practices of sport are unbeatable as tools for community development, especially in a country with such a strong culture of sports as his homeland of Burundi. He is committed to use these tools to help people understand the good lessons children and adults can learn from the games.
Nzobonankira Benjamin was born in 1981 at Kabanga settlement, a Busoni commune in the Northern Burundian province of Kirundo. As a young boy, Benjamin was forced to flee his home country, briefly settling in Rwanda before the 1994 genocide broke out. The conflict forced him to flee further to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but he could not stay there due to the emergency of the Banyamulenge War in 1996. His journey took him as far as Muyovozi-Mtabila refugee camp in Western Tanzania, where he completed his secondary school education.
While in the camp, Benjamin became involved with Right To Play, training in several programs as a task team member. Right To Play programs profoundly helped him during his time as a refugee. Not only did he acquire new life skills, but he also made many new friends in the refugee camp. Together they often talked about their plight and encouraged one another time and again.
In June 2008, several refugee camps, including Muyovozi-Mtabila camp, were closed. Through UNHCR, Benjamin was repatriated and resettled back home in Burundi. He was excited to find Right To Play programs running in his home country. After a long trek through many countries fleeing the traumatic wars that engulfed the Great Lakes Region, Benjamin settled down to work with Right To Play program implementation in Burundi as a Supervisor.
"The skills and knowledge I acquired as a volunteer with Right To Play in the refugee camp are my tools which I have been using to integrate into the new community since my repatriation. These skills can be very important tools of reconciliation and sustainable peace in our country after such a long period of agony and conflict."
Nzobonankira Benjamin, Right To Play Supervisor
Because of the difficulties associated with the life of a refugee, Benjamin did not get a chance to go very far in his education, but is grateful for the skills he gained as a task team leader with Right To Play. He has learned how to implement projects, organize activities and manage groups. He also gained sport-specific skills which he believes are beneficial to his community.
"The skills and knowledge I acquired as a volunteer with Right To Play in the refugee camp are my tools which I have been using to integrate into the new community since my repatriation," says Benjamin. "These skills can be very important tools of reconciliation and sustainable peace in our country after such a long period of agony and conflict among Burundians."