The Healing Our Communities program in Rwanda was a collaborative effort with three Rwandan partner organizations which addresses grievances from the 1994 genocide—focusing on a total of 16 communities where tensions remained particularly high.
About the Program
After mass violence, psychological wounds live on in people who experienced, witnessed, or perpetrated atrocities. If this pain is not resolved, it can be passed on to the next generations – and could fuel future violence. Through the project’s trauma healing workshops, the Rwandan organization Healing and Rebuilding our Communities (HROC) provided in-depth education to more than 1,500 people in 16 project communities about the effects of trauma.
HROC’s unique model brings together survivors and former perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, using the experience of trauma and recovery as a place of common ground – both the grief and loss felt by genocide survivors, and the guilt and shame of the perpetrators, bystanders, and their families. This process of trauma healing is one path to bring communities into reconciliation.
Since Rwanda has a median age of only 19, youth leadership builds the future. In each of our project’s communities, the Rwandan office of Aegis Trust selects and mentors Youth Champions, and they have emerged as a vibrant force. They have led more than 270 projects. They built homes and gardens for vulnerable people (photo below), led discussions about reconciliation, performed original skits and poetry about the genocide, and raised money on their own for additional service activities. Aegis Trust also taught these youth how to collect reconciliation stories, using photography and video production techniques and mobile phone technology. They created 18 short documentaries, and have been using these stories to promote acceptance and spark discussions in schools and communities.
Within Rwandan communities, many disputes remain about the property theft and violence committed before and during the genocide. If these grievances are not resolved, they can contribute to larger conflicts. In our 16 project communities, the Rwandan organization, Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), built dialogue clubs where survivors, perpetrators and bystanders have an ongoing space to resolve conflicts peacefully – sometimes with life-changing results. We also held intergenerational dialogues, and listening sessions with local and national government officials to support community members to advocate for their needs.
The Rwanda We Want was produced by youth in the Healing Our Communities program.
Forgiveness was produced by youth in the Healing Our Communities program.
Don’t Worry, Rwanda was produced by youth in the Healing Our Communities program—about one of the program’s youth-led projects!
Watch more videos by Rwandan youth! (playlist on our youtube channel)