Saturday, 31 January 2009

There is nothing I can do but search for love

...closing words from a survivor of the Rwanda genocide, in the video Icyizere : Hope from the African Great Lakes Initiative of Friends Peace Teams:

AGLI workshops on Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) take 10 people from one side of a conflict and 10 people from the other side for intensive encounters lasting three days, seeking
something good in every person, a radical notion where neighbors and even family members have committed gruesome act. In Rwanda, this means Tutsi survivors of the genocide and the families of the Hutu perpetrators of the genocide. AGLI is now working in Burundi, Congo, and Kenya.

“Sense of Safety” is the first stage.
It is common for participants to be wary of attending workshops fearing they might be a trap where they will be attacked, sent back to prison, or killed. Through experiential activities and cooperative exercises, participants begin to relax.
The second stage is “Remembrance and Mourning.” There are two Rwandan proverbs that emphasize the importance of speaking out about one’s pain: “The family that does not talk, dies” and “The man who is sick must tell the whole world.” Traditionally Rwandans and Burundians talk about their losses and talk through their grief with family and neighbors. Broken trust and dismantled families have impeded that intuitive process of healing, but it is widely accepted in the cultures here as an important step in the journey toward healing.
In the workshops a forum is created for participants to pay tribute to their losses and to share their grief with others. This process helps to humanize the “other” thereby laying the foundation for the third and final stage, “Reconnection.”

See also: other videos by Patrick Mureithi, the origin of Alternative to Violence (AVP) in prison work in the USA and Canada. "Peace cannot stay in small places", the story of its application by Friends in Rwanda since 1999. "Now, I am Human" testimonies from Rwanda and Burundi; Andrew Petersen's blog about environmental and peace work in Burundi, All Quiet on the Quaker Front. David Zarembka's Kenya Update and previous Kenya posts tagged in this blog.

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