Our Mission

Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS) International

"THARS International fosters reconciliation between individuals and communities and supports healing of psychological wounds caused by traumatic violence. Through counseling and mediation, pathways to justice are restored and people find peaceful alternatives for resolving differences."

First Priority: Our partner "THARS", was established and registered as an inter-denominational Christian charitable organization in Burundi, in 2002. At the request and invitation of their Board of Directors, "THARS International" was organized in the USA in 2010 and was approved as a US charitable organization in 2011. Through this partnership we are able to focus our early efforts in East Africa. Some of the ways that we do this:

Construction Grants: The THARS Retreat and Training Center, near Gitega, Burundi, eventually will house 100 persons for training, seminar and retreat purposes. Use income from the center is expected to provide sustaining income for THARS staff and its mission in Burundi.

Program Grants: Funding to empower the Burundian organization in programs where its mission and best skills are at applied, especially among the most vulnerable members of society. Training of Trauma healers and mediation specialists, group trauma counseling in safe "Listening Rooms", reconciliation between Twa, Hutu and Tutsi clients, and administration of programs to empower clients toward self-support are priorities of THARS work in Burundi.

Cross-Cultural Work Camps: Well structured work camps bring equal numbers of Burundian and North American volunteers together for 2 weeks of joint work, mutual engagement and interaction with the local community at the THARS Training and Retreat Center. (Some of our strongest supporters have been work campers.)

Study and Discovery Tours: Proposed group travel experience with a focus on learning about THARS programs, meeting with staff and clients and discovering Burundian facts and history through tours to various sites and seminars. This tour would also include the options of visiting other African cities and experiencing some days on safari.

Cross-Cultural Training: Training for trauma counselors and support staff may involve sending specialists to Burundi, bringing their specialists to share with North American counselors about trauma and effective intervention in Burundi, or bring groups together from both areas to learn from one another.

Beyond Counseling: THARS programs include Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) workshops; women's support groups for trauma survivors; organization of women's self-help groups for shared income efforts and micro-finance management; skill training; sewing crafts training; demonstration gardens for sustainable foods; and organization of at-risk kids into boys' and girls' performance groups.

Our Staff & Board

John Braun, Executive Director

John brings leadership, spiritual discernment, counseling, business & pastoral experience. He is a former business entrepreneur.
Contact John

Joseph Roy, Board President

Other Board Members:
Dennis Rempel, Mediator and Builder
Ben Staley, Pastor
Patricia Elias, with the Union of Concerned Scientists
Lacey Shryock, professional musician and worship leader
Anita Stokes, retired Teacher
Ivan Bowman, former Teacher & overseas Service Worker

You can learn more about our partnering corporation, THARS (Burundi), at www.thars.org.