Urumuri is a club that epitomizes vulnerability and bravery. Formed by various members of society with different backgrounds, this group is made up of survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. This group welcomes people of all backgrounds, many of them being vulnerable, aging, and childless. Never Again Rwanda (NAR), in partnership with Interpeace and through the support from SIDA, founded Urumuri as part of the Societal Healing and Participatory Governance for Peace in Rwanda program that was established in 2015 and phased out in 2019. A sense of comradery can be felt as the members of Urumuri join together under an avocado tree, in the heart of Rubengera Sector in the Karongi District. For your average onlooker, one may take it as a time used to reflect on life stories, journeys, and trajectories. All these seem to cover a multitude of rich histories and passionate stories. However, when you take a closer look at each of the 25 faces represented there, one can see and feel the common demeanor of resilience and empathy. As custom follows, the team meets once a month to touch base on what everyone has been up to. Amongst the endless chatter, everyone is giving their inputs, updating on the happenings of the group and various events that have happened or are to happen. Momentarily the discussion drift and colleagues share various parts of their personal lives. The tradition for Urumuri to meet once a month began in 2016 as the group was being founded, and this tradition has since been upheld. The Urumuri meetings focus on various and pertinent issues within the society. These include discussions of survivorship, healing, hope, and reconciliation. Within this, the team can look to their personal stories and journeys over the course of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Through this, all members are given a safe space to discuss the personal traumas and scars that these events led them to have. The societal healing axis was intended to provide a platform for people to share their traumas, pains, and sensitive experiences, in order to spearhead the healing journey and the cultivation of empathy and mutual understanding. The Healing Journey Domina Mukakabera, a 57-year-old mother of seven stands as the president of the Urumuri Club. Mukakabera like many in Urumuri are survivors who still carry massive impacts from the Genocide. Of her seven children, Mukakabera only birthed three and the remaining are children of her now perished siblings. Born and raised in Rubengera, she got married and lived in the Rubengera area. “Because I am a Tutsi woman who married a Tutsi man, our family became a target during the horrific 100 days of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. My sense of feeling like a Rwandan or daring to call someone Rwandan didn’t come back to me until I attended the 2016 NAR session,” she shared. Mukakabera testified that she truly began her journey of healing after following the counsels and recommendations of certified NAR psychologists. “I was approached and requested to form the group because I was known for helping my friends who had similar problems. At the time, it had only been 22 years since the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi and so I thought I was strong and healed. However, I became bitter when I learned that the group would be made up of a variety of people, including perpetrators. Through therapy, I noticed some signs in my routines that indicated that I needed to recover from old scars.” Following the therapy sessions, Mukakabera summoned all the energy she had in her to prepare and organize the first Urumuri meeting. She notes that the first few weeks were particularly difficult. “At first I did not want to share my story. For example, whenever I went to church, I would criticize any Hutu I met there. Instead of listening to the sermon, I would be sidetracked by memories and curse the preacher, especially if I thought they were Hutu. I would sit near the door, believing that if they decided to kill us again, I’d be able to flee before they got to me,” she explained, “Similar, if not worse experiences astounded me. I also listened to Hutus and perpetrators revealing their remorse. I did not believe things will ever return to normal.” In the beginning, Mukakabera was hesitant to share her story but rather preferred organizing the meeting and taking a step back. At first, I did not want to share my story. I just organized the meetings and listened to what others had to say. I was astounded by the variety of stories shared, some even worse than my own. I also listened to Hutus and perpetrators revealing their remorse, their regrets, and their pains. In the end, I became friends with them over time.” Evelyne Kabanyana has a similar story to Mukakabera. The 66-year-old mother of five children was Hutu who married into a Tutsi family. Her husband was killed during the Genocide and so were some of her children. Since I returned to Rubengera, I hadnt been to church or any other community event. I despised being Hutu and despised others because I didnt think life had any meaning after my three older boys and husband were killed in the Genocide, I constantly wanted something that may kill us as well.” Kabanyana who is now an active member of Urumuri shared the hesitation Mukakabera felt when beginning the Urumuri club. “I thought Mukakabera was insane when she encouraged me to join. It took me two months to accept her invitation.” Kabanyana came to accept herself and anyone else who had been Hutu with the support of the therapy and friendships she acquired at Urumuri. Even before I met the man who killed my family, who later asked for forgiveness in person, I had come to forgive the perpetrators for my peace of mind. Urumuri was my true light and now I sleep solemnly, not fearing that my remaining children may be killed as well, she said. Many members of Urumuri share these same experiences with Kabanyana and Mukakabera. On the other hand, for people like Francois Mubirigi, Urumuri represented a point of reintegration into society. Mubigiri, a 57-year-old man was convicted as a genocidaire. After serving a 12-year sentence, Mubirigi experienced hardships as he was not warmly welcomed back into society. I didnt trust anyone because I didnt feel like anyone else trusted me. When I returned to Rubengera after years in prison, I always felt ignored and out of place.” He added, I felt remorseful, and it was difficult to confront people like Mukakabera, whom I had known before the Genocide. I instantly joined when she invited me and I was relieved when they let me sit with them, hear them out, and see my fellows plead for forgiveness as well, Mubirigi remarked. The Urumuri group, which was started by NAR, now meets on its own and receives occasional visits from NAR psychologists. The effects of Covid-19 on the members are also shared in the group, and they inter-help and provide each other with various forms of support. NAR, a local organization, is dedicated to helping Rwandans improve their mental health and well-being, through providing group and individual therapy, through a nationwide network of psychotherapists who are always ready to provide free professional mental health and psychosocial care to anyone in need. They offer both virtual and in-person therapy, and a physical wellness center was opened in December 2021 in Kigali. People can anonymously check their anxiety or depression level, listen to soothing content, and request an appointment with one of their expert psychotherapists on their online wellness site https://wellness. Domina Mukakabera, president of URUMURI Group. Evelyne Kabanyana. François Mubirigi.