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How Rwanda’s journey towards healing and rebuilding can guide its future

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Where are we in terms of healing? How does the Rwanda of today inform the Rwanda of tomorrow?

Healing is a process that takes time, effort, and commitment. It is a journey that involves addressing past trauma, reconciling with others, and building a better future. In Rwanda, this process has been ongoing since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1 million people.

Today, Rwanda is a different country from the one that experienced the horrors of the genocide. The country has made significant progress in rebuilding its infrastructure, improving its economy, and promoting social cohesion.

The country currently operates a well-functioning, decentralized healthcare public service system comprising 1700 health posts, 500 health centers, , 42 district hospitals, and five national referral hospitals. Not only that but Rwanda is one of the countries investing considerable efforts in promoting environmental sustainability.

Rwanda’s experience in healing and rebuilding can inform its future by reminding its people of the importance of unity, forgiveness, and a shared vision for the future. Rwanda’s success in building a peaceful and emerging society is a testament to what can be achieved when people come together to work towards a common goal.

Interpeace Rwanda is an organization that has launched a successful initiative. They undertook a peacebuilding program from October 2020 until September 2022 in the Bugesera District located in the Eastern Province of Rwanda.

The program was designed to address various aspects of peacebuilding, including mental health, social cohesion, reconciliation, and collaborative livelihoods. It aligned with the government’s objectives to establish a resilient, cohesive, and inclusive society in Rwanda.

The programme helped to fight trauma while also improving mental resilience, social cohesion, and collaborative economic livelihoods. One of the participants, a graduate in Sociotherapy, Francoise Mukaremera, said she was the only survivor of the Genocide against Tutsi in her family.

She said, “I was left with a lot of anger and hatred. I would not forgive. When I joined the Sociotherapy healing space, I was able to heal and now have the capacity to forgive.”

Evariste Buregeya, a community member of the program, is a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi said, “ One of my little brother, my sister, and I survived the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It hurt me and plunged me into a deep depression. I chose to stay at home and had no interest in doing anything. The healing group helped me to strengthen my mental resilience and has now become my family.”

The program implemented by Interpeace Rwanda has been successful in promoting healing and improving mental health for the participants.

Through the use of Sociotherapy healing spaces, participants like Francoise Mukaremera and Evariste Buregeya have been able to overcome their traumatic experiences and work towards forgiveness and resilience.

By creating a safe and supportive environment, the program has facilitated a sense of belonging and community for participants who have suffered from isolation and depression. This approach has allowed participants to address their mental health needs and build a foundation for their long-term well-being.

As young people, where most of us were not born yet during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, seeing the strength and courage of our elders in rebuilding this country, what role and how equipped are we to carry on the legacy to future generations?

It is an important question that should be in our thinking and really find its answer.

Healing and rebuilding after a traumatic event like the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda takes time, effort, and commitment.

However, through programs like the one implemented by Interpeace Rwanda and many others, significant progress has been made towards promoting healing, reconciliation, and resilience.

As young people, we have an important role to play in carrying on this legacy and ensuring that future generations continue to build a peaceful and prosperous society. By learning from the past and working towards a common goal, we can create the brighter future for Rwanda we want.

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