Among the youth
We believe strongly that the Rwandan youth can be taught from a very young age, trained to become good citizens who will bring change in Rwanda. Helping to raise these young children from primary schools with Christian values and peaceful attitudes is to chap a very strong foundation for peaceful and prosperous future.
Through trauma healing workshops, CARSA has helped hundreds of children to regain hope. Many of them are genocide orphans or do not know their parents. There are others whose mothers were raped during the genocide and conceived under such circumstances. They were born hated and rejected. There are other children whose fathers are prisoners accused of genocide crime.
We have also helped their teachers to deal with their own inside wounds and then train them to handle the trauma cases in their schools.
For the last six years we have been very active in universities and secondary schools where we have run hundred of seminars and conferences, trained facilitators, and organized talks on radios. We could reach 3.500 youth in schools with the message, 300 teachers in primary schools.
Healing and reconciliation among older people
Genocide survivors released prisoners
Since 2001 the government of Rwanda has decided to release genocide perpetrators from prisons. After being released they have to go back in their communities where they will leave with victims. Many victims’ families are frustrating and are scared to live again with those who have killed their relatives.
The relationship between the two groups is a big challenge of Rwanda. Even though they live in the same villages but there is still anger, pain, bitterness but also shame and culpability to the other side.
CARSA is working to bring healing, repentance and forgiveness between survivors of the genocide and perpetrators.
The perpetrators have been reintegrated in their communities, reconcile, live and work together with genocide survivors, we have run healing and reconciliation workshops in which 731 released prisoners and 507 genocide survivors have passed through. They are both living peacefully in the same community and help each other.
Most of genocide survivor’s widows have been raped, and need a special care to deal with psychological, health, economical and social consequences.
CARSA has run many trauma healing workshops and advocated for them to improve their economic conditions. They have now a pineapple plantation of 4 hectares. This helps them to satisfy some basic needs
Healing and reconciliation within the church
The 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda has also affected the church of Christ. Pastors and evangelists have been involved in the genocide and killed people.
The consequences were that after the genocide the church had a sense of guilt and many Rwandans couldn’t trust the church. At the same time the relationship between Hutus and Tutsi pastors was broken and in many church denominations it was hard to work together.
Since 2007 CARSA has joined other Christian organizations have started to bring church leaders together in order to address their own pains and wounds as Rwandans. Then, they will be able to integrate the healing and reconciliation work in their respective church. It will also be easier to work together as members of one body of Christ ; in spreading the message of repentance, forgiveness and unity in diversity. Through different approaches including seminars, courses, conferences, preaching, radio and TV programs and other methods, CARSA has spread the reconciliation message to the Rwandan community.
Since then, some churches have organized reconciliation events that resulted in the repentance and forgiveness at personal level.
In partnership with other organizations CARSA has organized event and has invited government officials to attend.
The government is expecting more from the church in
Healing and reconciliation within Rwandan Society
(Minister of culture and sport during the opening ceremony of top church
Leaders conference at Serena Hotel on 27-28th April 2007)
There is hope that Rwanda will progressively change. For the youth are starting to take the initiatives such as “Rwanda a new era “ aimed to change the mindset of old people, and get their act together to heal and reconcile Rwandans. Then we can really say “NEVER AGAIN” and it makes a sense now.
(Theodore SIMBURUDARI ; the president of IBUKA the Rwandan genocide survivors organization expressed during the conference)
During the meetings and conferences, top church leaders share their stories, their pains. God can touch their hearts
And enable them to repent, ask for forgiveness, standing in the gap and forgive.
RWANDA NEW ERA CONVENTION
The Rwanda New Era Convention is a time of repentance both at personal and corporate level. The main idea is that one who is convicted by the Holy Spirit, who acknowledges the wrong done by his group, who have realized how other groups have suffered, takes responsibility and in humility ask for forgiveness. This act of humility finds its source in the Bible (Lev 26 : 40-, Ez 22:30, Daniel, II Cor5 : 21). The mandate of confession is given to the church as the ‘Priest’ (I Pet 2:9) of the nation but not in an official capacity. The confession is addressed both to God and to those who suffered. It does not absolve the wrongdoer before God and the judicial but lay the foundation for new relationships, healing of wounds, and hope for a better future. It also takes away the curse bloodshed brings to the land. The confession achieves profound reconciliation when forgiveness occurs but does not demand it. The Rwanda New Era Convention mainly deals with the great sin of the genocide but will also take in account the other sins committed through Rwandan history.
The idea of corporate confession is not foreign to the Rwandan culture which encourages the leader of a family to ask forgiveness to the wronged party on behalf of a guilty member. In case it does not happen, enmity was built against the whole family.
This confession must be accompanied with the commitment to honor those who suffered, to assist them practically and to prevent further hurts.
The Rwandan New Era Convention was inclusive, with the participations with all organizations involved in reconciliation in government, non government and church circles. Rwanda is at the center of the confession with other countries in the region and overseas as witnesses and participants
At the national level, 500 pastor leaders from different denominations throughout the country were gathered at Gitarama from 6-8 July 2009.They took a time to repent and forgive each other for the sins committed by their respective ethnic group.
They also stood in the gap for the role played by the church in 1994 genocide. Then, they pray together for the healing and prosperity of the nation.
At the regional level, 13 people from Burundi, 18 from Congo and 1 from Uganda joined the Rwandan team from 9-10 July. We have had a time to repair our relationship with neighboring countries that hurt our people throughout history. Those same countries also expressed pain and resentment for what our people did such as stealing, raping or killing their people. We also prayed for the healing, reconciliation and sustainable peace of great lakes region.
Rwandans heard ‘sorry’ from members of European countries who played a significant role in planting the seed of hate and division. The international community is indebted to Rwanda for abandoning thousands of defenseless people into the hands of killers to be massacred.
On July11, 2009 the delegates from Europe and USA read their confessions, kneeling in humility in the sun on a mat on the rocky track of Gitarama stadium. The countries confessed their sins one by one relating to the role that their nations played in Rwandan history. The Rwandan pastors came to embrace them, granting them their forgiveness.
On July, 14 2009, some members of organizing national committee of Rwanda a new Era convention, the regional and European delegates met Miss FatumaNdangiza, the Executive secretary of National Unity and Reconciliation Commission. They explained the content of their confessions to her briefly. She appreciated that initiative led by the church of Rwanda. She also asked them to be the good ambassadors of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation in their respective countries and try to convince others to join them in EARP (Europe and Africa reconciliation process).
HEALING AND RECONCILIATION IN DRC- North Kivu
From April 2nd -4th, 2010 CARSA held trauma healing and reconciliation seminar for the youth from 8 different ethnic groups and different denominations exiting in Goma North Kivu province/DRC. 39 participants attended the seminar ; among them 8 people from Germany.
They shared experiences of what they passed through during ethnic conflicts, what they lost and how they were affected by the wars and conflicts. This helped to understand and sympathize with one another and confess, and/or standing in the gap and asking for forgiveness on behalf of their respective ethnic groups for all that they offended to others.
At the end of the seminar, we celebrated our unity and reconciliation and many of the participants could testify how God touched their hearts and healed them from the ethnic hatred, prejudice and division. Others testified how the Holy Spirit convinced them to confess the role they have played during the conflicts and wars.
The participants were very active and open during the seminar .They could speak freely their opinions about the roots of ethnic conflicts, prejudices and its consequences in North Kivu province.
The participants were gathered in small groups according to their respective ethnic groups to do an assessment of what they lost, and the role played by their groups during the conflicts.
Community development is a skilled process and part of its approach is the belief that communities cannot be helped unless they themselves agree to this process. Community Development is about developing the power, skills, knowledge and experience of people as individuals and in groups, thus enabling them to undertake initiatives of their own to combat social, economic, political and environmental problems, and enabling them to fully participate in a truly change process.
In an age of mounting world crisis, where top-down intervention of government and global organizations has failed to bring about lasting development, Christians have a vital role to play in showing that development is all about changing society by reflecting God’s heart. The key is people changing hearts and minds.
Cow for peace
Cow for peace is a project focused on strengthening reconciliation process between the families of genocide survivors and those of the genocide perpetrators through sharing a cow and improving their socio-economic conditions.
After attending the healing and reconciliation workshop, the target group of CARSA is encouraging and facilitates to set up cooperatives.
In these Cooperatives some income generating activities have been initiated to fight against poverty. CARSA already initiated a project of pineapple agriculture in Bugesera district for the raped women during the genocide period and the women whose husbands took part in 1994 genocide.
Cow a source of peace ; can strength the reconciliation process between genocide perpetrator and victim but also reduce an extreme poverty.
Children character values
How do you teach your children not to hate ?
Today we live in a world were much emphasis is given to education, economic development, water projects, public policy and disease prevent. But little thought and attention is given to shaping the heart values of the children. In the context of Africa and Rwanda in particular we now have children raising children due to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS, genocide and war. These children have not had anyone invest time and energy to shape the core values that will guide their decisions and behaviors. A Rwandan proverb captures the essence of this, “You can out-distance what is running after you, but not what is running inside you !
The Rwandan government has set up what are called Rwandan values and is encouraging every institution to adopt these values. It has trained people to teach these values. In Rwanda we are fac¬ing difficult issues such as ethnic hatred. Even now we still have what we call genocide ideology among youth. The president is still dealing with misman¬agement and corruption among his people. Because of our background many people here don’t really have trust for each other.
Our hope for change will have to come from children ; things will change with the young generation. But if nothing is done to help the children, how can we expect that change. Can our young people change without someone to help them learn positive values ?
In response of this question CARSA in partnership with Breakthrough Partners has developed a five core charac¬ter values to teach o children. Those values are :
Respect : Ukubaha
Hope : Icyizere
Honesty : Ukuri
Thankfulness : Ugushimira