Atleast 3,800 volunteers will be on standby to help trauma victims during the 22nd commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
According to Ibuka, the umbrella organisation for the Genocide survivors’ organisations, the volunteers are spread across the country.
However, this number is not sufficient to manage the cases that usually shoot up during the commemoration week. Last year, 1,515 cases of trauma were registered during the 21st commemoration period.
Over one million people were killed during the Genocide; this means that millions of families were directly or indirectly affected by the catastrophe. This, therefore, calls for concerted efforts from every one to be on the lookout for anyone who will need support. It could be in a home, on the street or even during community gatherings. Local leaders should, in particular, ensure that people are sensitised on how to identify someone on the verge of breaking down or succumbing to trauma.
Community gatherings should be encouraged where people gather to commiserate, especially with the survivors.
In such gatherings, survivors are able to get psychosocial support and may not succumb to trauma like it would be the case if they remembered in solitude in the confines of their homes. Survivors should be encouraged to commemorate in public to avoid slipping into depression in isolation.
22 years is a short time for survivors of the Genocide to heal from the wounds and the void it created in their lives. That is why during the commemoration, many of the survivors suffer from trauma and depression.
But, individually, in our respective capacities we can ease this pain. For example, during this period, find time to visit a home of survivors or if you have a neighbor who is a survivor, find time to share with them and encourage them to keep hope alive.
Although trauma cases during commemoration have, over the years, reduced, a lot of efforts are still needed to offer psycho-social support to survivors, especially during the commemoration period.