In Nyarugenge prison, after a 15 week-long-journey of Mvura Nkuvure, 90 genocide prisoners commit themselves to new life orientations

Nyarugenge prison

By Felibien Hirwa TUZAYISENGA

Mvura Nkuvure (community-based sociotherapy) is an approach that uses the group as a therapeutic medium to enhance psychosocial wellbeing. It facilitates an open environment for discussions and the formation of peer-support structures. Mvura Nkuvure groups facilitate participants to identify, acknowledge, share, and manage together their everyday psychosocial difficulties and past experiences that are likely to hamper peacebuilding endeavors at family, community and societal level.

Mvura Nkuvure project is being implemented in prisons by Community Based Sociotherapy (CBS Rwanda) in partnership with the Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) to facilitate the psychosocial reintegration of (ex-) prisoners. The first round in Nyarugenge prison targeted six groups of 15 participants per group. These participants were invited in September 2019 to attend the Mvura Nkuvure sessions (a journey of weekly sessions, for two to three hours, over 15 weeks). Sessions are structured to help group members regaining feelings of safety, trust, care and respect and to enable them to remember their past but also opt for new and positive life orientations for improved psychosocial wellbeing and social reconnection.

In total, 90 participants (men and women) who have been participating in these sessions will officially conclude the first round of Mvura Nkuvure in Nyarugenge prison on Wednesday 26th of February 2020. The official closure, locally named Ubusabane, will take place in Nyarugenge prison starting at 11.30am.

In partnership with RCS, CBS Rwanda invites project stakeholders to witness stories of change of these participants. They plan to share their testimonies, future plans and commitments through different literary works: storytelling, poems, dramas and songs that illustrate their life before and after joining Mvura Nkuvure.

“[…..] it is crucial to emphasize that many of the genocide perpetrators, who are currently serving their sentences in prisons, will complete their sentences in the coming years,” Fidèle Ndayisaba, the Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, indicated this and stated that in 2020 

922 genocide convicts will have completed their sentences, 1,496 in 2021 and many more over the subsequent years.”

This program is implemented as part of all endeavors made for ensuring effective reintegration of genocide prisoners. It supports the process of reconciliation and plays a role in finding sustainable solutions to current unity and reconciliation challenges such as intergenerational transmission of genocide legacies, pending reparation of looted or destroyed properties and information on where to find bodies of genocide victims for a dignified burial.

About the Project: Mvura Nkuvure is implemented in Nyarugenge prison by CBS Rwanda in close collaboration with RCS. It is planned that by the end of 2021, 450 genocide prisoners will have completed five rounds of Mvura Nkuvure sessions. This project –is also being implemented in different communities in 10 districts across the country since 2018. It aims at addressing intergenerational legacies of the genocide and the reinforcement of ownership among (local) leaders, teachers, and other professionals (like staff of the Rwanda Correctional Services) over the reconciliation process across generations.

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