During every commemoration event, several traumatized people are always hurriedly carried away from the crowd by a group of Red Cross staff or other volunteers. I used to think it was right, but as time went on I come to think otherwise.
Now I think that there’s a better way of helping them. They should be consoled where they are; they shouldn’t be simply lifted up and rushed to where other trauma victims have been assembled.
First, by taking them away (unless they are in such critical condition that they need to go to hospital), it makes it look like there is some sort of stigma.
I’m sure that some people will argue that they are moved away for their own good and because they are wailing loudly. But I ask myself, “What is wrong with crying”?
Their loud cries are an expression of a deep internal sorrow for what happened to them and their loved ones. Someone in that state, who bursts into tears, is actually quite courageous.
That person is appealing for sympathy, love and care. They should get that from the people around them. They shouldn’t be whisked off somewhere private.
This practice should be halted because, when someone is carried away, someone else suffering similar psychological stress, will try to fight back her/his emotions.
They will do so because they fear being ‘shamed’ by being whisked away by these volunteers. This isn’t good when our fellow Rwandans need our support and care the most.
During commemoration activities, instead of sidelining traumatized Rwandans, we should seek to build their emotional confidence, show them they’re part of the wider Rwandan society, fully respected and accepted and not left alone.
I do not know what transpires when they meet the trauma counselors, but my feeling is that the whole thing could be done in a more dignified manner.
Those who are not in critical condition should always be given that psychological/emotional support from their seats and be spared the inconvenience of being taken away by a group of strangers whenever they express their deep and sincere feelings.