Every year since 1995, the Month of April that We call Mata (which resonates the Month of Milk) in Kinyarwanda turned into a Month of blood shedding (Genocide) that extended to July claiming more than a million lives of Tutsi and moderate Hutus; who did not support the then regime’s ideology of Genocide against the Tutsi.
Prison Fellowship Rwanda commenced under the leadership of its Passionate Visionaire and Founder Bishop Gashagaza Deogratias who suffered genocide consequences by losing a big number of his family members. As a Godly Minister who is required to love and forgive, Bishop Deo prayed for forgiveness, healing and love for Genocide perpetrators which eventually led him to obey the inner voice of God that asked him to preach about repentance to the perpetrators as well as preaching about forgiveness towards genocide survivors. It is upon this painful obedience of the bishop with a few members of Prison Fellowship Rwanda’s team that we see efforts of partnership with the Rwanda’s government of unity towards healing & reconciliation among genocide perpetrators and survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Rwanda’s unity, reconciliation and resilience did not just come to such a better level we see today, it costed much of time, effort, mediation, willingness and commitments from the current government of unity, partners and both the genocide perpetrators, survivors and their families through promoting Rwandan identity and putting national interests first, fighting genocide and its ideology, creating a nation governed by the rule of law, respect of human rights, combating divisionism and discrimination, promoting interdependence and synergy in nation-building while healing one another’s wounds.
Prison Fellowship Rwanda since 1995 started intervening in partnership with Rwanda’s relevant agencies, local and international organizations as well as UN agencies to foster support in psychosocial healing, peace building and reconciliation, restorative justice, crime prevention, human rights promotion and legal aid, intervening in emergencies as well as nurturing socio-economic empowerment in Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. Since 2002, PFR activities expanded beyond prisons into communities focusing on instilling action-based psychosocial healing and practical reconciliation, reintegration of ex-prisoners into communities, fostering restorative justice among convicts of genocide and other crimes, victims/survivors and their family members.
During the 100 days of commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Prison Fellowship Rwanda join efforts with the Government ministries, institutions, districts and other organs in the 29th commemoration activities such as participating in decent burial of bodies found or being relocated to District Genocide Memorials, sharing public & media speeches of fighting against genocide ideology, its denial & hate speeches.
Although we still have a long way to go in addressing intergenerational legacies of genocide such as trauma, circles of violence and so forth, PFR continues to strive for the healing and restoration of our Country’s social fabric through improving social cohesion and resilience among Rwandans.
Author: Prince Moses