By Felibien H.T.
After driving for one hour through the mountains of Karongi district on the shaky cobblestone road, we reached Murambi sector where sociotherapists and 14 sociotherapy participants had invited us to join their conviviality meeting. But the journey was all worth it.
This conviviality meeting was attended by sociotherapy graduates, their family members and local leaders. During the event, the sociotherapy participants expressed their feelings vis-à-vis their experience and what they have gained from Mvura Nkuvure.
Conviviality meetings are normally organized at the end of every round of Mvura Nkuvure at community level, as an event marking the official closure of the 15 sociotherapy sessions. It is also a celebration, as the participants do not only share stories but they also share some food and sing and dance together.
The group members who concluded this round were both from groups of genocide survivors and perpetrators and they were invited to join the group in May 2019 in Mubuga cell. The testimonies were touching and revealed that the participants experienced numerous changes after attending the group.
This was not only mentioned by sociotherapy graduates but also their family members witnessed that the life before joining Mvura Nkuvure program is different from the life they are living after attending this program. One testimony in particular was highlighting that the group led to behavioral change. It was the testimony from one of the sociotherapy graduates, a genocide perpetrator.
“…The first thing I could feel before joining this Mvura Nkuvure program, was fear; I was desperate, and hesitant, I didn’t know how I would meet and sit together with the genocide survivors…”
The man had confessed his involvement in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, and served his sentence doing the community work, popularly known as TIG (travel d’interest generale). During the time he spent out of his home, serving his sentence, he could receive communications informing him that his wife had another husband. This made his life miserably bitter all through the reintegration process after completing his sentence.
“That was the most terrible experience I ever had in my life”, he said, adding that he used to feel insecure in his own family and even among the rest of his community members whom he had wronged.
“I was in the most horrible situation that no one could understand or find a way out. I was not expecting my extended family to help me out, neither competent institutions nor local authorities. I was in a complete isolation, […] until I got a chance to participate in Mvura Nkuvure”. He mentioned that the sociotherapy phases of “Safety” and “New life orientations” helped him to understand that interacting with a person that one maltreated, can help to reduce fear to ask for forgiveness and at the same time paves way for possible feelings of compassion. “Certainly Mvura Nkuvure has provided me with moral and social support more than expected. Something no one else from my neighborhood would be able to do … I’m now having a peaceful and positive mind and my wife is the eyewitness” he concluded.
According to the local leaders of Murambi sector, Mvura Nkuvure is contributing a lot in promoting unity and reconciliation at community level. It is expected that the sociotherapy graduates in Murambi sector will support the execution of Ndi Umunyarwanda/Imihigo relatedactivities effectively. And in addition to that, the sector leaders expect to close the pending 80 Gacaca cases thanks to the support of these sociotherapy graduates. Murambi sector, in this event, was represented by the chairman of executive committee and the Civil Registrar.
“You are not concluding, you are rather starting… this is the beginning of unity and reconcilitation journey”, said by Emmanuel NIYIBIZI, the Murambi Civil Registrar, emphasizing the role that Mvura Nkuvure plays in sustaining social cohesion in Murambi. He further added that the sociotherapy graduates are going to be the promotors of unity, reconciliation and sustainable peace. It is expected that the work of these 14 graduates will benefit 23,227 people who currently live in this sector. The graduates will be meeting on regular basis with the sector leaders to plan and coordinate related activities.