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African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams

Report from Kenya #283 – June 13, 2014

HROC for Youth in Rwanda

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PeaceQuest2014 Reminder: Next Friday and Saturday, June 20, and 21, the Friends Peace Teams will be celebrating their 20th anniversary at Stony Run meeting in Baltimore. See peacequest2014.org for details. I will be introducing the keynote speaker, Carl Wilkens, on Friday evening and I encourage you to come since he will speak about being the only American who volunteered to remain in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. “Carl’s multimedia presentation uses Google Earth, his own pictures, and the web to tell the story of what his family experienced during the genocide. He doesn’t focus on the horror and loss nearly as much as on those who stood up against the wrong.”

The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations. Numbers 14:18.

Comment by Dave: I am forwarding this report on a workshop with youth done last month in Rwanda because it shows how divided and hurt young people still are even though they were quite small during the genocide 20 years ago or perhaps not yet born. Clearly the survivors organization that requested this workshop realized that the youth needed it. Since the genocide happened 20 years ago, organizations want to move on, but it is clear from the testimonies from this workshop, that trauma healing and reconciliation have not taken place even though this is the “second generation.” The wounds are deep and are subconsciously or perhaps consciously, in some cases, being passed on to the next generation.

A Narrative Report of HROC Workshop in May 2014

Following the training we had with youth survivors of genocide, we were asked by IBUKA (genocide survivors association) in Kimonyi to have a workshop with youth survivors (or children of survivors) and youth whose parents participated in genocide or imprisoned. This workshop gathered 18 youth, 6 young men and 12 young women though we finished with 14 participants.

It was a very young group, not willing to open up or even to share or sit together as other young groups; they kept their emotions to themselves wanting to participate with their heads rather than their hearts. It wasn’t easy for the group to share as they were from different tribes and backgrounds; they were uncomfortable being there together. As mentioned, one could see the difference within by just how they were sitting, but by the end of the workshop, unity was the only word.

As usual, the workshop was opened and closed by the sector official. He took his time to thank HROC for the good work they are doing in the community, mentioning how it was important to have partners who are helping for the healing from trauma (psychological part) of the community. We had the IBUKA representative for the opening and the closing also. He was encouraging the group to share and enjoy the workshop, telling them how it was for their own interest to have a chance to be there.

Dates: 19/5/2014-21/5/2014

Venue: HROC Center, Kimonyi Sector, Musanze District

Participants: 18 participants (12 women, 6 men)

Facilitators: Hirwa Jean-Hubert, Solange Uwase, and Julienne Uwimana

Target Group: Youth survivors (or children of survivors) and youth whose parents participated in genocide or are imprisoned.

Testimonies:

Tutsi youth: “I didn’t see what I was doing here when I first got in by seeing them (Hutu youth)! But I was moved when we started, because I have lived with trauma for so long and I wanted to heal. First we did the big wind blows where I found myself sitting near a youth from a perpetrator’s family (Hutu). It was weird but I didn’t mind. On the second day when we were in sharing time things became worst. We were paired into groups, two people together. I was paired again with one of youth from a perpetrator’s family. I didn’t know what to share with him. I just said to myself that I will make up a story at least so I have something to tell him. It was my first time since the genocide to be with them (youth whose parents participated in genocide or imprisoned). What was strange, I found myself sharing with him. He listened well to me and was much concerned. I didn’t realize he had trouble, too, thinking that I am the only one who was much wounded, but it wasn’t the case. I thank HROC for this, because before the training I didn’t it was possible to have all of us together for three days while even sharing food.”

“The example of the cook pot where if you don’t leave a small hole while cooking because of the heat it can bust (this example usually used by Theo, referring to his grandmother’s pot). It was just describing me. I thought someone looked inside me. Before I thought hiding my feelings, problems was good. Actually it was affecting me in my daily life without knowing. I came to learn that it worth nothing to suffer inside. It’s not good at all to hide them. On top of that I gained new friends who I think I will be sharing with.”

“This training gave me something important I didn’t think of in my whole life. During gathering time where we were to say someone we trust and why, I remembered the guy who rescued me during the genocide. Without him I could not survive! I learnt to do good, build trust if I want a better life.”

“About the trust and mistrust tree: I had so many of the mistrust roots in me, but I never thought about the negatives effects before — how it would affect me and my family and my country. But after I learned the tree of trust I am completely changed and want to be a good ambassador in my community.”

“I had never realized the symptoms of trauma. I thought crying and screaming was the only symptom. So I didn’t realize what was happening to me was because of trauma. I am so glad I was able to attend this training. Hopefully I can even help others who are facing the same problems as I was.”

Recommendations

Participants requested that HROC could help with the following:

· To have another workshop with this target group to reach more young people

· To have a workshop focusing on drug use and school dropouts

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