Healing Our Communities is a collaborative effort among Karuna Center and three Rwandan organizations: Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC), Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), and the Rwandan office of Aegis Trust.
Today, after long-term trauma healing work with facilitators from HROC (one of four organizations collaborating in the Healing Our Communities program), Marie and Boniface are a team of “Healing Companions” who guide others in their community through the process of healing from genocide trauma. Their joint leadership within Healing Our Communities is a living example of reconciliation that is helping others find healing and peace.
After the first three days of a basic trauma healing training led by HROC in December 2016, Boniface confessed his past feelings of hatred toward Marie and explained he did not feel well when he was next to her. He was ready to fully acknowledge his role in the death of Marie’s children and how his actions continued to harm her and his community. He asked her for forgiveness. Marie, who had been reflecting on her own process of healing, chose to forgive him.
Months after the workshops, Marie became ill, and Boniface, as the nearest person to her, brought her food and made sure she got well. Marie said that Boniface had never brought her food before, and that if he had, she would have been afraid it was poisoned. Boniface agreed that, in the past, he would not have accepted Marie’s food either.
Within the Healing Our Communities program, HROC’s unique approach to trauma healing is combined with dialogue clubs created by IRDP, which help community members—perpetrators, survivors, bystanders, and rescuers—discuss and acknowledge the lasting effects of the genocide. Within the same communities, Aegis Trust trains and mentors clubs of “Youth Champions” who are trained to document community members’ stories, stimulate community discussions, and lead volunteer projects to help the most vulnerable community members. Karuna Center’s program staff coordinates and supports these interlocking layers within 16 communities throughout Rwanda.