The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) will focus its efforts in the next eight months on conducting mass healing sessions for Rwandans to help them cope with psychological scars left behind by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The plan was revealed on Thursday by the commission’s president, Bishop (rtd) John Rucyahana, while presenting to the Senate a report of NURC’s activities for the Financial Year 2016/17 and action plan for the current financial year.
Rucyahana said that the programmes will essentially be in the form talk therapy whereby people will be encouraged to meet in their communities and clubs, where they live and discuss their wounds and how to overcome them.
“It’s going to be a mass approach, involving people at different levels from students, women and men, prisoners, to the youth in different communities. We are really engaging the people to heal each other by talking about their psychological wounds,” he said.
The Genocide, which killed more than a million Rwandans in three months, left so many psychological wounds for both survivors and perpetrators, experts say.
Rucyahana told Saturday Times in an interview that Rwanda doesn’t have to use psychiatrists to cure every psychological wound because so many people in society are wounded, hence the need to use a mass healing approach that requires every member of society to contribute to the healing process.
“Therapy through discussions at different levels will be conducted,” he said shortly after presenting the plan in the Senate.
Other programmes that will be conducted by the commission over the next eight months before the end of the current fiscal year include more unity and reconciliation awareness campaigns, healing and reconciliation sessions for special groups like former prisoners and ex-combatants as well as Rwandans returning from exile.
NURC will also build a unity and reconciliation monument as well as a gallery, where works about the topic will be showcased as part of promoting the values.
The commission will use a budget of about Rwf1.1 billion to conduct its activities in the current fiscal year, funds that are slightly more than its budget for the past fiscal year when it spent about Rwf924million.
Senators welcomed the commission’s plans and encouraged the body to keep up efforts to promote unity and reconciliation among Rwandans.
Some of them also requested the commission to actively push the government and get it to solve some of the remaining challenges to unity and reconciliation such as the issue of unsettled Gacaca cases related to property destroyed during the Genocide.
“We made so many recommendations about this issue but it’s not yet clear how it will be done away with completely,” said Senator Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo.
Other challenges to unity and reconciliation at the moment that deserve special attention include genocide ideology that is exhibited by certain members of society and domestic violence, both Rucyahana and some senators said.
“Domestic violence is quite a challenge because for the Rwandan society to be happy and peaceful it has to start with the family,” said Senator Appolinaire Mushinzimana.
NURC is mandated by the Constitution to prepare and coordinate the national programme for the promotion of national unity and reconciliation.