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#Munakata Foundation completion

Spring 2021

Munakata Foundation has accepted our exchange students since 2019. We'd like to express our gratitude to the chairperson, Ms. Mana Munakata. Henri choses the human rights of "Twas", one of the ethnic group in Burundi as his research project, which gave him new knowledge about them.

The following is his essay.

Henri_MunakataFDN (3).jpg

I knew Munakata Foundation through former exchange students like Rodrigue, Shukulu and Hellen. I was positive and happy to hear from their experiences. However, I did not think that I would be an intern at Munakata Foundation, because I intended to try something new and do internships in another different field and organizations. However, due to limited knowledge of the Japanese language and the omnipresence of the pandemic, it did not become easier to find a different organization. These challenges manifested during earlier applications I submitted to WASSHA Inc., Good Neighbors Japan and Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan).

That is why I am thankful to the Munakata Foundation for prompt consideration and acceptance of me as an intern since March 17, 2021. Of course, I found Munakata Foundation unique in its mission, objectives and context, especially towards working with undocumented vulnerable and indigenous groups. I found my place because I was given a chance to think myself what project I could do and work on during the internship period. It was not easy to think about a project and fortunately after attending a course titled, "Theory and Practice of United Nations", I gained an enhanced understanding of various indigenous groups. This helped me seek the advocacy for human rights and dignity of "Twas", one of three ethnic groups of Burundi that are often not recognized and acknowledged domestically and internationally. You would wonder why "Twas" come into my interest. The majority don't have land, Identity card, and almost all don't do marriage, and an alarming, many Twas cannot manage to send their students to school because of the financial burden. But also, during the discussion with Association Espoir Pour Les Jeunes Batwas (ASSEJEBA), we get to know that, Twas, find it difficult to find friends during their studies. It sometimes happens that resentment can be shown against a Twas who would wish to share the same chair with another Burundian of different ethnicity in the class.

After finding ASSEJEBA of Burundi, a Twas owned organization that is advocating for Twas's respect of their dignity, guarantee of human rights, provision of land and ID kits (Identity card, marriage certificate, and health insurance), I was confident that Munakata could contribute something to the efforts of ASSEJEBA and various NGOs. It is fortunate that Munakata Foundation is now in contact and aim forward to cooperate with ASSEJEBA after a Zoom discussion that I mediated between Munakata Foundation and ASSEJEBA. Thank you, Mana sensei, for your advice and support during the internship until today in particular that I am also continuing to make a follow-up after returning to Rwanda.