Social cohesion ‘has become a true remedy for post-Genocide trauma’

Edouard Bamporiki, the Chairman of National Itorero Commission, speaks at the dialogue forum at Kigali Genocide Memorial on Thursday. Craish Bahzi.

Froduard Rutikanga, a resident of Gakenke District, is a former Genocide convict who was set free after being pardoned by relatives of his victims.

Rutikanga had been sentenced to by the Gacaca court.

Like some other former convicts, after his release Rutikanga was confronted by the difficulty to reintegrate in society, limiting his involvement in social activities. This affected him psychologically.

“I always feared to go out and mingle with people. I tried to search for a solution but nothing yielded results,” he said.

The community too was reluctant to receive him.

This changed after Rutikanga and other community members received training on trauma healing, reconciliation and peacebuilding under a three-year programme, dubbed community healing.

Rutikanga was on Thursday one of the participants at the third dialogue forum on promoting social cohesion organised by AEGIS Trust in Kigali.  

The event is part of the activities under the reconciliation programme.

Rosette Sebasoni, Head of Community Healing Programme, said that the programme was rolled out in eight districts which demonstrated high post-Genocide related tensions.

At least 30 people comprising of Genocide perpetrators, survivors and other ordinary members of society received the training.

“We first gave training to thirty people to help them overcome their fear,” she said.

Rutikanga testified saying that local social cohesion dialogues have helped the entire community.

He gave an example of a neighbour with whom they reconciled after she blocked marriage between their children.

“My community is changing, and the impact is tremendous because one of my neighbours came to my home asking me for forgiveness for her sabotage in the love affair of my son and her daughter, I was moved by the gesture,” he said.

Edouard Bamporiki, the Chairman of National Itorero Commission, lauded the initiative as one of those that can help the country to achieve sustainable peace as well as trauma and a violence free society.

“I am happy to take part in such dialogues which aim at building a new country free of violence and trauma, done through creating a platform where people are free to talk about their history. This will help us to break the cycle of violence, a key pillar in building sustainable peace,” he said.

Bamporiki also called upon those who were present to not only engage in dialogue but also to promote peace as this will help influence those who still harbour the ideology of hate.

Anita Kayirangwa, the Head of Programme at AEGIS Trust, said that the dialogue has the potential to influence policymaking.

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