A local peace-building and human rights organisation, Never Again Rwanda (NAR), is set to address healing needs of Rwandans and enable them participate in governance of their communities.
Through a four-year programme that the organisation launched on Tuesday, members of selected communities from eighteen districts in the country will be facilitated to discuss their wounds related to their experience in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and work to overcome them.
The programme, titled ‘Societal Healing and Participatory Governance for Peace in Rwanda (SHPG)’, is funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Rwanda and is being implemented by Never Again Rwanda with support from Interpeace, NAR’s partner organisation in peace building activities.
“The programme seeks to contribute to the consolidation of a peaceful and inclusive Rwandan society, heal the wounds of the past and to peacefully manage conflicts and diversity, as well as empower them to influence programmes and policies responsive to citizen priorities,” NAR said in a release about the initiative.
The Societal Healing aspect of the programme seeks to enable Rwandans to overcome the wounds of the past and to peacefully manage conflicts and diversity through participant-driven dialogue groups for people aged 15-35 (Youth Peace Dialogues), as well as for adults (Spaces for Peace for adults).
The Participatory Governance aspect of the programme also uses participant-driven dialogue groups, called Citizen Forums, to empower Rwandans to influence policy and programmes responsive to citizen priorities and to minimise the space between citizens and the decision-makers who represent them.
Prof. Naasson Munyandamutsa, the Country Director of Never Again Rwanda, said at the launch of the programme that it will respond to the biggest and continuing challenge of managing Rwanda’s post-Genocide society.
Though the programme launched yesterday will not cover the whole country, Munyandamutsa said that its implementation will serve as an example of some of the efforts that people can make in helping others to overcome wounds related to the Genocide.
“We want to show that healing is a need, a very important need, and we want to show that it links to different phenomenon in the society – notably peace and stability,” he said.
A recent study that NAR conducted as part of the SHPG programme has revealed that there is a need for more initiatives to address psychological wounds that resulted from the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
The wounds also derive from consequences of the Genocide as well as discriminatory government policies and structural violence in Rwanda prior to 1994, the study said.
Munyandamutsa, who is a seasoned psychiatrist, says that because genocide is a crime that affects the society as a whole, it is very important for Rwandan society to examine how it will continue to fulfil its social responsibility to tend to its invisible wounds.
“All societies that have emerged from extreme violence have no choice but to find adequate strategies to tend to both the visible and invisible wounds caused by atrocities,” he said.
Based in Kigali, NAR is a peace-building and human rights organisation that was founded in response to the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
The organisation works to build a nation where citizens are agents of positive change and work together towards sustainable peace and development.