Prison Fellowship Rwanda (PFR) in partnership with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Rwanda initiated a Healing and Reconciliation Dialogues project between genocide perpetrators and survivors of Genocide in Rwanda with families of both sides from Nyamagabe district, this project is running its final third quarter in Cyanika sector in Nyamagabe (Southern Province) a district located in Rwanda about 46 mi (or 74 km) south-west of Kigali, the country’s capital town.
According to the sources, the former Gikongoro /Nyamagabe where Cyanika sector is, lost almost 20,000 people during Rwanda’s genocide against the Tutsi, this region was characterized by a history of killings and massacres since 1959 mainly in the former Bufundu region when the then prefect Rwasibo Jean Baptiste who led the region under the Belgian authority. With the aid of the Belgian authorities a notorious plan was designed and executed to get rid of Tutsi people in that region.
Through the plan, Tutsis were relocated to deserted regions of Kibungo and Bugesera which were a breeding area for Tsetse Flies which killed a large proportion of the population, those who managed to survive settled in the area and started to develop it. However, to due the continued history of hatred, Tutsi people in the region were continually targeted during the first and second republics and this killing climaxed during the 1994 genocide.
28 years after Genocide against the Tutsi, PFR/UNDP Healing and Reconciliation Dialogues project came in Cyanika with the main objectives of Freeing the perpetrators and the victims, as well as their families from the bondage of shame, unforgiveness, hatred, revenge, and Genocide ideology so that they can become contributing members of the New Rwanda where all people regard themselves as Rwandans, not as communities identified and separated by ethnicity; Healing the wounds and memories of the trauma of the Genocide against the Tutsi; Foster peace-building in all the communities of Rwanda by creating a peaceful legacy for future generations of Rwandans and Encourage & help all the parties to work together for their development and economic up-liftmen of their communities, which also leads to building trust and social cohesion.
The event was concluded by bringing together genocide survivors, ex-prisoners and families of prisoners from Cyanika/Nyamagabe District to embrace community reconciliation through public asking forgiveness and giving forgiveness between genocide survivors and ex-prisoners in order to strengthen the Rule of Law, Justice, Peace and Security for the people in Rwandan communities.
For example, Pascal a Genocide survivor and a trainer gave his testimony to the trainees with immense joy on how himself was set free by the same trainings which thus led him to dedicate his fulltime service to train other to get rid of the bad situation, Pascal was joined later to by Pastor Noel who is from the side of genocide perpetrators, these two fellows have now become like blood brothers where you easily find out this trough the progression in their teaching/training sessions, they teach on four important U-turn points namely,
- Re-unite & reconcile with God first: Many people were killed in Catholic missionary churches hence lost trust from God since were expecting to be saved from churches which was the case. People need to be reminded that regardless of what happened to them, God still loves them and has a good plan about them which could be among the reasons for them to survive.
- Re-unite & reconcile with yourself: Traumatized People do not like themselves hence a need to first reconcile themselves by being reminded on how they are special and important people not only for themselves but also to their entire families & communities at large
- Re-unite & reconcile with others: When people re-unite & reconcile with God, with themselves, they now come to realize that they should also start re-uniting & reconciling with their fellow members through asking forgiveness of their crimes and forgiving to those offended.
- Fellowship with God & others: Consequently, when people have managed to ask for forgiveness and others are able to forgive, the positive result will lead to fellowship among themselves while celebrating God that has facilitates such a good spirit to prevail
It was surpassing some member’s imaginations to hear and see testimonies between genocide perpetrators and survivors asking for forgiveness and being forgiven through the love of God. Most of them were requesting this project to spread across the whole country in order for other districts to benefit on such good fruits of unity, reconciliation and resilience among all Rwandans.