Bilalo byetu project under Prison Fellowship Rwanda in Partnership with UNDP Elman Peace is contributing to the psychosocial Reintegration and Reconciliation of Ex-combatants and other community members in general through reduced rejection and stigmatization of ex-combatants, former genocide prisoners and increased social cohesion between them with genocide survivors and community members in general.
Gaetan is an ex-interahamwe militia under president Habyarimana’s regime, he is an ex-prisoner of genocide released after 15 years of sentence due to heavy crimes committed during genocide, the old man of above 60 years was taught about genocide ideology since his childhood hence clarified is his quotes that ” this genocide ideology was inculcated in Rwandans for more than jubilee, it requires almost the same amount of time, efforts and ant genocide campaigns to uproot and eradicate this virus in Rwanda and all over the world.
Gaetan continued by expressing his gratitude to the current government of Unity with partners such as prison fellowship Rwanda with how far they have gone in uniting, peace building, hope and resilience among all Rwandans through effective initiatives and projects such as Elman Peace/Bilalo
During the awareness campaign of psychosocial therapy and reintegrating ex-combatants, ex-prisoners and survivors of genocide at Rubavu District, Kizungu the PFR’s Prison Chaplain who contributed towards the transformation of both Gaetan the offender and Gakure the victim through preaching them about the power of asking for forgiveness and the power of forgiving, invited them in the training
Through their testimonies, Gakure never expected to meet any hutu including Gaetan due to the trauma he suffered during & after genocide while Gaetan also never had hope of life when he was incarcerated, fortunately these fellows are now in a healing process through their regular meetings, telling the truth about each one’s feelings towards the other, supporting each other and so forth.
PFR’s field project facilitators now do follow-ups and counselling on these beneficiaries through psychosocial therapy to reintegrate them to live back together in peace and harmony.
Subsequently the same event of Awareness campaigns on the psychosocial reintegration of ex-combatants, ex-prisoners, and community social cohesion in Rwanda/Bilalo Byetu project was conducted in Rusizi district where we met Evangelist Bizimana Pierre.
Ev. Bizimana Pierre is a 70-year-old and a veteran police commander who was once imprisoned for years then later changed to change others. Pierre being a family member from the side of genocide perpetrators, he used to advise his fellow family members not to involve in genocide ideologies & crimes against humanity, nevertheless they couldn’t pay attention to him as they called him the crazy born again.
In the aftermath of genocide against the Tutsi, Pierre joined hands with other PFR’s Prison chaplains to preach about repentance and asking for forgiveness among the offenders in Rusizi Prison where he met some perpetrators that used to ignore him before being incarcerated,
Nsengumuremyi Ananias is among the genocide perpetrators who were preached & followed up by Pierre till today, He was invited in the awareness campaign along with Nyiransengiyumva Verena whom Ananias participated in killing her Tutsi husband, my heart was overflowing to hear and see the live narration of both the offender and the victim united, reconciled and now facing the community rejection & stigma together. Ananias explained how he was convicted to life sentence, not hoping to live with his family again nonetheless after confessing his crimes and asking for forgiveness, his sentence was reduced until he was released to go back in his community,
Ananias in his 60’s says, he living a second chance of life and counting all this to restorative justice programs initiated by the joint efforts of the government of Rwanda and its partners. The awareness campaign brought back hope to both Ananias the offender and Verena the Victim who are facing stigma, they have decided to keep preaching about the power of repentance and forgiveness for it is the real source of peace.