Youth susceptible to trauma during Genocide memorial

Trauma cases during the commemoration period are highly prevalent among young people, with 63 per cent of cases recorded recently, information from the Mental Health department in the Ministry of Health shows.
Red Cross volunteers evacuate a child who had collapsed during a past commemoration in Kigali.   The New Times/ John Mbanda.
Red Cross volunteers evacuate a child who had collapsed during a past commemoration in Kigali. The New Times/ John Mbanda.

Trauma cases during the commemoration period are highly prevalent among young people, with 63 per cent of cases recorded recently, information from the Mental Health department in the Ministry of Health shows.

Nancy Claire Misago, an official from the department, said a survey that  was conducted, last year, revealed that women come second and comprise at least 62 per cent of the trauma cases during the commemoration period.

She said last year alone, there were 1,193 trauma cases in Kigali City, of which 315 were reported to have received help from health centres.

Chaste Uwihoreye, a clinical psychologist and National Coordinator of Uyisenga N’Imanzi, an organisation that helps orphans of the Genocide, said trauma cases are common during this period even among the youth who were born after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.

Uwihoreye said most of the youth who are affected are those who are orphans and lost their parents due to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

“Most youth get traumatised because they lost their parents during the massacre, so they always imagine their lives would be better off with their parents alive. Some youth have heard a lot of horrific stories about the Genocide, while others witnessed the scenes when they were young,” he said.

Emotions


On the figure for women, Uwihoreye  alluded to emotions, adding that men may express their trauma in a different way such as through smoking and drinking.

Yvonne Kayiteshonga, the head of Mental Health Division in the Ministry of Health, said several interventions were in place this time round to help those who might be traumatised during the commemoration period.

She said more than 100 Red Cross volunteers have been trained to offer mental health care during the period.

Officials have also trained community health workers in villages to help victims at commemoration venues.

“We have also trained those who can offer first aid and psychological support to victims during this period. These will be at all commemoration venues. All health facilities have also been sensitised on how to handle various cases, including referrals,” she added.

A hotline (117) has been provided to help for the public to call the mental health division in case of emergency.

The 19th Genocide commemoration will be marked under the theme, “Let’s remember the Genocide against the Tutsi as we strive for self-reliance.”

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