There was once a community that was given a new piece of land to live on. It was the first land they’d ever owned and it was fertile and green and beautiful and they were happy for it.
But there was a problem. Their new neighbours hated them. They were Batwa, the minority in the country, and they were despised by the people who lived all around them. Their new neighbours hated them so much, they hired people to steal cabbages from themselves, so that they could blame the Batwa.
The Batwa wondered what they should do. The way of the world is to respond to hatred with more hatred, to violence with more violence. Their own country was still shaking off the dust from the years of civil war due to this approach.
But they had heard of a different way, a better way. A way taught by a man from a different tribe far away, who lived many generations ago. He had said, if someone wants to take your coat, let him have your shirt as well.
So when they were accused of stealing six cabbages, they gave their neighbours back ten. Even though it was a lie.
And they went further. They had been given pigs to breed, and they agreed as a community, to all give away their second litter to the people who hated them. Dozens of piglets being carried over to their stunned neighbours.
And further. Their neighbours lived behind their land, but had to walk a long way to reach the main road. And so the Batwa community decided to give them 10% of their own land to build a road, connecting their neighbours to the main road.
Love in the face of hatred. Generosity in the face of deception. Grace in the face of hostility.
Today, their relationship with their neighbours is a good one. The light came, and the darkness could not overcome it.
This is part of my series remembering our trip to Uganda and Burundi. The story was told to us the day we visited a community of Batwa people in Matara, Burundi. For the last few years, Communities of Hope have been working with them towards sustainable transformation in their community. We got to visit them, see where they live, how they farm, and hear their stories of hope.
We were invited to Burundi by the wonderful Claude and Kelley Nikondeha, who run Communities of Hope, and hosted us so generously in their home while we were there. We love their vision for Burundi, and can whole-heartedly recommend their organisation for your support. Find out more on their website and facebook page.
All these wonderful photos were taken by the talented Claire de Boer.