A new partnership between Aegis Trust, which runs the Kigali Genocide Memorial, and local peace building organisations will see a new social cohesion programme run across Rwanda. Known as Healing Our Community, the groundbreaking initiative was launched at a ceremony in Kigali on 12 January 2017.
The programme will support communities to carry the pain of the Genocide and its history so that they can address ongoing challenges to reconciliation, strengthen social cohesion and build immunity to violence for the future generations through dialogue, workshops and training.
“As part of the programme, Aegis Trust is training young people around the country in peace building. These ambassadors for peace then return home and create their own projects based on what can best support their communities,” said Marc Gwamaka, Youth Coordinator at Aegis Trust.
The young people being trained by Aegis as part of Healing Our Community will work together to start 16 peace building projects, and will later be sent across the country to learn from others who have already been trained. In collaboration with other partners in the programme, the trainees will take part in inter-generational dialogues to promote critical thinking and a shared understanding of community needs and priorities.
To help communities learn from one another, the programme will introduce a unique automated mobile phone system that allows people to tell their stories to audiences across the country. Anyone in Rwanda will be able to access stories of peace building, give their feedback and also share stories from their own communities simply by dialing a number.
Recently, Aegis Trust trained youth champions in photography and videography to create peace stories. The trainees now collect inspiring stories from their communities and produce videos. With support from Aegis Trust and partners, the best videos will be selected and professionally produced. In total, 42 videos will be created that share a message of communities working together to heal division or conflict.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Jean Damascene Gasanabo, the Director General of Research and Documentation at the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, emphasised the importance of dialogue and the role of youth in fighting genocide ideology and building peace – key components of the Healing our Community programme. He also spoke about the work of the commission to organise dialogues in 45 universities, higher learning institutions and colleges every year.
“Every year on 12 December, students meet on campus and discuss their contribution to fighting against genocide and strengthening peace in their communities. This new programme will support these efforts and Rwanda’s reconstruction,” said Dr Gasanabo.
The Healing our Community programme is a joint initiative of the Aegis Trust, the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace, Karuna Center, and the Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities project. It will create effective and sustainable mechanisms for community members to address obstacles to social cohesion through community dialogues and joint projects. The programme began its initial work in July 2016 and is funded by USAID.