Francoise Mukaremera is a Genocide survivor and a beneficiary of the ‘Mvura Nkuvure’ programme which helped her to reconcile with genocide perpetrators who killed her family. The programme also helped heal her trauma in various ways. Mukaremera fled to DR Congo during the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 after her family was killed. She spent almost four years in a refugee camp full of horrible life until 1998 when she returned home with the idea of revenge on the people who killed her family. ALSO READ: Interpeace’s genocide trauma-healing initiatives promote social cohesion, reconciliation However, after living with that trauma for quite some years her friends introduced her to the ‘Mvura Nkuvure’ programme which was complicated, in the beginning, to accept that she will forgive or reconcile with people. During the first two sessions, it was hard for her to open up. She used to be quiet and not even talk to her husband or child. She was lonely and used to suffer from dire headaches as an effect of that trauma. ALSO READ: Rwf2.8 billion trauma healing programme to be launched Mukaremera said that following several sessions her lifestyle completely changed. She started being social, loving, and reconciling with the people who killed her family. Mukaremera started calling upon other survivors to forgive and reconcile with the perpetrators or ex-prisoners and their families for a better future for the country. ALSO READ: Interpeace donates motorcycles to improve mental health service delivery Her testimony was heard during the official closing of the piloting phase of that programme in an event at the Kigali Convention Center on March 9. Mukaremera is one of the 7,313 people who benefited from the pilot phase from October 2020 to September 2022, where Interpeace, in partnership with Prison Fellowship Rwanda (PFR), piloted a holistic peacebuilding programme, “Reinforcing community capacity for social cohesion and reconciliation through societal trauma healing,” in Bugesera District. The programme, funded by the European Union, aimed to support the government’s efforts to build a resilient, cohesive, and inclusive Rwandan society. ALSO READ: Mvura Nkuvure: Fostering healing, reconciliation through community-based sociotherapy Clarisse Munezero, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE), said that such projects give hope for the future in terms of reconciliation and the healing journey. “Through the testimonies, people have shown how they were healed and reconciled with their perpetrators as well as their families, and now they work together for their development. This is a good move,” she explained. Munezero pointed out that since the pilot phase was successful there is hope that it can be done elsewhere. With such joint efforts, she said, there is a better future as the country has set various programs to address the gaps. Belén Calvo Uyarra, the Ambassador of the European Union, said that the EU is proud of being part of that impactful journey. She noted that as their journey with the Interpeace came to an end they will keep supporting the government in the justice and reconciliation journey as well as try to bring a similar exercise in neighbouring countries. The Country Representative of Interpeace in Rwanda, Frank Kayitare, pointed out that the project was successful. As a way forward, they expanded the project into other five districts and aim to triple the number of beneficiaries since the project will be longer than the pilot. “We are now working in Nyabihu, Musanze, Nyamagabe, Nyagatare and Ngoma and the selection was based on reconciliation research as well as Ministry of Health research on mental health,” he added. Kayitare emphasised that in the meantime before the project expands countrywide they believe the beneficiaries and MINUBUMWE will help in disseminating the impact of the projects. The evaluation also recommends that protocols and other tools developed during the pilot phase be harmonised and institutionalised for large-scale use by government institutions and civil society stakeholders whose interventions focus on mental health, social cohesion, collaborative livelihoods, and prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration.