The Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 took over a million people in the most gruesome murders for a whole three months. This is a painful reality that many people all over the world have failed to comprehend and many Rwandans are struggling to heal from.
People killed their neighbours, mothers killed their children and likewise, what used to matter before didn’t matter anymore, societal values were the first to be breakdown and Rwanda earned its current sinister brand, that of the 1994 genocide, which is indisputably the most significant thing the world knows about Rwanda followed by gorillas.
All spheres of the Rwandan society are struggling to recover from the far reaching consequences of the 1994 genocide. The government in partnership with international friends of Rwanda are doing a great job in trying to knit together all that was tattered by the genocide.
The survivors of the killings are continuously suffering from the genocide which took away all they had, because some are lone survivors in their families, and you find that they were not left with any ray of hope in life.
These often suffer from loneliness, depression and when they experience anything that reminds them of the genocide they get traumatized.
Trauma comes from an unconscious insecurity which is manifested in actions, emotions and thoughts of a survivor of a tragedy and unexpected horrific situation.
It happens when a survivor experiences situations that remind them of that horrible episode, the sufferer manifests a behaviour which shows that he or she does not trust anyone, that no one can understand what she or he is going through neither can any one rescue them from the horror which they experience vividly in their minds every time they get a trauma attack.
Traumatized people are normally on tension, they hardly get sleep because memories of what happened to them in the past tend to become vivid at commemoration time, that’s why people run or scream in fear during the commemoration period or any other gathering reminiscent of the genocide.
Trauma has become a major setback in the process of healing from the genocide aftermath and that’s why this year’s commemoration theme was cantered on fighting trauma.
Government has put in efforts to combat trauma, and this has been done through training of trauma counsellors at all levels but reports show that there are other new signs of trauma cases that are manifesting.
Trauma occurs to both the genocide survivors and perpetrators, there have been cases of genocide perpetrators who have experienced trauma during their TIG activities, these have turned out to cause harm to others.
The fact that these people are being prepared to come back to society, it’s prudent to also help them overcome trauma before they are released.
Reports indicate that over 90 percent of the survivors suffer from trauma, and 85 percent of those who suffer from trauma are women. Trauma cases have been noted to be high among children. This calls for a more rigorous intervention such that these children can be healed when still young.
A recent research that was conducted here by Dr. Paul Mahoro, together with Dr. Naasson Munyandamutsa shows that out of the 1,000 Rwandans that were taken as a sample group, 28.54 percent suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and out of this percentage, majority are women who constitute 58.92 percent compared to men.
Statistics show that 79 percent (majority) of PTSD cases are seen during the commemoration period, while only 21 percent are seen during the year.
Statistics from the survey also show that of the traumatized cases, 88 percent are adults whose spouses or relatives were killed during the genocide.
Dr. Achor AIT Mohand, a psychiatrist who offers support to the National program on mental health also emphasized that PTSD may make some people very aggressive and dangerous to society.
This shows that people have to first of all understand these people, treat them with patience while supporting them to overcome the trauma problems.
What is worthy noting here is that trauma counsellors and trauma assistants have been trained at all levels, 2 people from each village have at least been trained.
This shows how seriously the issue is being handled, and other people have also been trained to offer mental health services across the country especially at all health facilities.
You can also help in the healing process by giving a listening ear and genuine sympathy and support.