“I have always perceived Gahigi as a killer—but I now see him as a human being because of his confession today.”
- A participant in the Bugesera Dialogue Club
By Seth Karamage
Karuna Center Peacebuilding Associate Seth Karamage shared these reflections after a meeting of a community Dialogue Club in Bugesera district, where he has been mentoring new dialogue facilitators as part of our Healing Our Communities program in Rwanda. The program is strengthening social cohesion and reconciliation in 16 communities throughout Rwanda, as people continue to cope with the effects of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi.
Today, the day before Giving Tuesday, we would like to share our gratitude for the incredible generosity of the Youth Champions in the Healing Our Communities program—who give help, hope, and inspiration in their communities and beyond.
The Youth Champions are a powerful force for change as Rwanda continues to recover from the 1994 genocide. In just the past year, 232 active youth club members within Healing Our Communities have led 209 activities. They have built homes, gardens, kitchens, and latrines for vulnerable elders, widows, orphans, and families, bringing communities together as they go.
They have led commemoration events; cleaned memorial sites; held plays about peacebuilding in many neighboring communities; and organized sports tournaments with themes of peace. They have pooled their own savings to bring food to those less fortunate or buy materials to complete their projects for those in need. These youth regularly speak up at district and sector level meetings and have become known as peacebuilders in their communities.
Youth Champions have also emerged as skilled media producers, with support from Aegis Trust through Healing Our Communities. Here are just a few of the 18 short videos youth have produced to tell stories of reconciliation, hope, compassion, and forgiveness:
We have been excited to collaborate with National Geographic on an article within their April 2018 special issue—“The Race Issue”—which is scheduled for release on newsstands today. The article, Why Do We See So Many Things as 'Us vs. Them'?, features two photographs of participants in our Healing Our Communities program in Rwanda.
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.
Boniface Twagiramungu and Marie Uwambaje, featured in the April 2018 issue of National Geographic. Marie chose to forgive Boniface after he asked for forgiveness “from his heart.” Though many people have asked for or given some kind of forgiveness (for example, as part of trials for genocide crimes), the act of truly asking for and receiving forgiveness “from the heart” is a deeper, ongoing need within Rwanda. Many participants say the Healing Our Communities program has provided that opportunity.
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