Beyond conflict Rwanda Program

 “We cannot turn the clock back nor can we undo the harm caused but we have the power to demine the future and ensure that what happened never happens again” H.E Paul Kagame.

 

Since June 2016 up to 2018 GER in partnership with CFOR, implemented   interventions through the program called Beyond Conflits-Rwanda and Great lakes.   Our work together with CFOR   was  to facilitate forums and trainings gathering community groups and to facilitate a deeper conversation needed to support the reconciliation process, community recovery, and prevention of future violence. The program has been implemented in three Districts: Bugesera, Gasabo and Kicukiro.  The forums and training were organized by Innocent Musore of GER and facilitated by Arlene and Jean Claude Audergon from CFOR.

Around 500 people have participated in forums and trainings majority of them were predominantly youth. Among the participants were survivors of Genocide against Tutsi, perpetrators of genocide, elders, community members, youth,religious leaders, local authority representatives, military and police and NURC representatives including representatives of Burundians and Congolese refugees in Rwanda. 

The participants shared their painful experiences

Perpetrators shared story about their role during the genocide, took the opportunity to ask for forgiveness, reconcile themselves with their family members, plead community members particularly genocide survivors to welcome them into the society.One of the youth participant shared how it is heavy and shameful being children of perpetrators. He further highlighted that these interactions helped to overcome the shame from the role of their parents during genocide. In addition, these interactions contributed to feel integrated into the Rwandan society and take advantage of all opportunities offered to them in building brighter future of the “Rwanda we want”.

One of the survivors from Kicukiro, said: “I had never sat down together with perpetrators over the last 23 years (after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis) until this forum made it possible”.

She further added that: “To achieve true reconciliation perpetrators should speak the truth on what happened, ask for forgiveness and take responsibility for their actions”.

On the other hand, one perpetrator took the initiative to share his action in genocide. He told the participants about his shock on what he had done and about his remorse.

As a result of what we have been taught, i didn’t feel that i was wrong back then because i was full of hatred against Tutsis, motivated in seeking revenge of being subject of Tutsi and protecting our regime.However, it doesn’t justify my participation in genocide and I deeply regret and feel so ashamed of my role in genocide

Survivors and participants thanked him for his honesty and encouraged such initiatives for others.

A genocide perpetrator who was 14 years old in 1994 Genocide revealed information to participants about where bodies of genocide victims can be found so that they may be buried in dignity. GER shared the information with authorities and they appreciated it.

Youth expressing existing challenges

                                                                                                                          Youth dialogues

Interactions have contributed to restore trust that was broken because of genocide with effect on young generation from both sides. Youth spoke about the distrust between children of survivors and children of perpetrators, and whether they could really overcome existing challenges between them and their families. Young genocide survivors revealed that it was hard for their parents to talk about what happened to their families. For us: “The forum was an opportunity to learn what happened and we wish that many youth be reached out”.

One youth born during the genocide shared how he was born due to rape between a survivor and perpetrator. He had grown up in such dilemma.Nevertheless, “i feel proud of being Rwandan and enjoying opportunities that the current government offers to all”.Young people requested to elders to tell the true story of what happened in order to contribute to sustainable reconciliation.

In order to support this work at ground, 60 Community facilitators have been trained to continue in implementing reconciliation activities in their respective communities. Mr. Innocent Musore appreciated Arlene Audergon (PhD) and Jean-Claude Audergon and CFOR team for their fully dedication to support post-genocide reconciliation in Rwanda.

 Beyond conflict program has been successful and contributed to:

Improve broken relationships between genocide survivors and perpetrators;

Train community facilitators representing resourceful persons in their respective communities. They work day to day with local leaders to enhance reconciliation process through dialogue, facilitate interactions at community levels with positive impact;

 Train youth who are fully committed to make successful the process of reconciliation and continuously share information about reconciliation using existing social media platforms

                                                                                                         Authorities who attended the forum

Participants including local leaders and NURC recommended that the program be scaled up in other areas of the country in order to contribute in the existing process of reconciliation with focus on the next generation. Participants recommended that the program should support reintegration of ex-prisoners of genocide perpetrators into their families and the community as well.

Implementation of the program has been successful thanks to close collaboration with decision makers and stakeholders; We learn that, reconciliation is possible when communities are empowered and engaged in the process;

Advocacy is easy when there is collaboration with decision makers. I will not forget a painful story (testimony) of a young lady born from rape. She was affected by her historical background to the extent that her education was at stake due to trauma and extreme poverty. Aware of the situation of this young lady, one leader present in the forum felt touched by the story and started advocacy. Currently, she is pursuing her university studies thanks to advocacy made for her and she is happy and she initiated talks with young girls and boys in order to go beyond their historical background like her.

To ensure sustainability of activities of the program, GER mentored trainees and meet participants at grass root levels by linking them with local leaders to make collaboration easy and smooth. In addition, GER identifies challenges faced by trainees and feedback meetings are organized in order to share experience in order to overcome the identified challenges and plan for future activities ahead. GER will continue to contribute to the existing process of reconciliation and we appreciate the political will which helped Rwandans to reconcile even if it is still a process, and communities are still facing effects related to the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

We are calling upon interested organizations, foundations, individuals to support this program in order to reach more people.  For more information about this program reach out to GER via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

 

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