ALICE GHISLAINE MUSABE, Muqtar Inkindi and Constance Lumen Hirwa have authored ‘The Tales of a Healing Heart’, a poetry collection which talks about the struggles and conflict concerning mental health issues and disorders as well as the journey towards healing, in the lens of Rwandan youth who were born after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. According to Musabe, the collection which contains 70 poems (48 in English and 22 in French), conveys unique voices that aim at encouraging people to share their mental health stories, destigmatize mental health issues and create a support system among youth. The idea of creating the book came after she realised that mental health was becoming a pandemic among youth, declaring that everyone was talking about it which she said made it harder to discern accurate information from misleading one. A copy of ‘The Tales of a Healing Heart,’ a collection of 70 poems about mental health. Courtesy photos. She then joined forces with the two co-authors to work on the collection. They decided to use their own mental health stories, health education backgrounds, and poetic talents to create the book which could be accessible to high school students who were not accessing social media and also the rest of the world. “We were also inspired by our personal journeys with mental health and the lack of information regarding mental health facilities. Additionally, we cannot ignore all the stigma and myths that we still face on a daily basis while trying to open up about mental health,” she said. Tackling why they choose to address mental health by using a poetry collection, she said they wanted to provide something everlasting – the one their audience could use over and over again. “Knowing that mental health is a journey and that healing does not come after one conversation or one medication dose or one self-help video, we knew that a book would give a longer lasting supply of testimonies and resources and inspiration to anyone battling a mental health issue or disorder,” she said. “As poets, writing a book was our first instinct of expressing our emotions and ideals. Therefore, it is up to everyone to express themselves in whichever way that makes them whole, free, healed, and creative.” Thematically, the poems in “The Tales of a Healing Heart” explore the relationship between mental health issues and the intergenerational gap as well as issues that arise from unhealthy relationships with parents, families, siblings, and friends. “Some of them also highlight how families’ trauma from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is passed down to our generation and affects how open we are to each other,” she said. The book also portrays a multitude of disorders and issues under the mental health umbrella and paints various pictures on how each disorder or issue manifests differently depending on the victim. She added: “This book also provides tips, resources, and testimonies on how one can walk towards healing from mental health issues. It shows the power of sharing one’s mental health story and healing by the help of a supportive system in a world with less stigma and judgment towards mental health patients. It is a session of conquering, hope and joy,” Musabe said. According to her, the collection is also part of the “Healing Through Poetry by Us” project which the three poets collaborated on. The project aims to raise mental health awareness in high school students based in Rwanda so that they can have a strong foundation to live happily while also preparing them to withstand the challenging transition from high school to the university as well as their adult life in the future. “We primarily printed the books as learning materials for mental health clubs that we are creating in different high schools in Rwanda,” said Musabe. The book will soon be available in bookshops at Rwf10, 000. People can also order their copies by contacting Inkindi on +250 780 775 970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.