Reconciliation and Community healing
Rwanda has experienced genocide which claimed more than 1000.000 human lives. In just 100 days in 1994, around more than one million people were slaughtered in Rwanda. The genocide targeted members of the Tutsi community as well as moderate Hutu. Neighbours killed neighbours and some husbands even killed their Tutsi wives, saying they would be killed if they refused. Beyond human losses, the genocide wrecked the country’s economy and destroyed the social tissue. After the genocide was stopped by the RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front) Inkotanyi and as the country sets itself on a reconstruction and development path, a lot has already been done by the Rwandan government in order to (re)build national unity. However, the road is still long. For example genocide ideology and divisive politics are still a challenge to achieving full unity among Rwandans. Also different categories of Rwandans live with trauma related consequences of the genocide. Consequently, without leaving none behind, more efforts are still needed to assist various categories of the population in the healing process. Specifically, genocide survivors need to be empowered and the young generation needs to be educated and prepared as peaceful citizens of tomorrow.
In 1999, Rwanda began its National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) to work towards a reconciliation of the conflicting parties involved in the Rwandan civil war and the Rwandan genocide, with the ultimate goal of reuniting the country’s citizens. As the name suggests, the Commission was created to promote unity and reconciliation between the former opponents of the Rwandan people. In 2021, the Government of Rwanda established the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE). Beyond the scope of the commission, the Ministry is embarking on a broader mandate for preserving historical memory, strengthening national unity, and promoting citizenship education. Undoubtedly, progress has been made towards achieving unity and reconciliation in the country – much of which is a direct result of national policies of unity and reconciliation. However, despite all the achievements, achieving full unity and reconciliation in Rwanda remains a challenge. Genocide ideology and ethnic stereotypes remain a challenge to the process of unity and reconciliation in Rwanda. Survivors still need to be guided along the long road of healing. Communities still need to be educated about the need for peaceful coexistence and reconciliation. ACfH is happy to work with the Government of Rwanda and other stakeholders to address these challenges. It adopts a model for reconciliation and community healing that addresses exclusionary identities. It conducts inter-Community dialogues by promoting the culture of peace. Moreover, it promotes the place and role of the Christian message of peace in directing and/or redirecting conflicting ideologies. In 2021, ACfH has already started peace education projects in Rwanda for churches in Eastern and Southern Rwanda.