Rwanda: 20+ years after genocide

Callixte
After Callixte was part of a group that killed Andrew’s wife’s entire family, Andrew turned him in to the authorities. Callixte was imprisoned. And yet, after going through training in peace and reconciliation, the two men have been able to become as close as brothers again. (©2013 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

In April 1994, when Rwanda erupted into violence, neighbor turned on neighbor, family turned on family, and love turned to hate. The genocide turned friends, like Andrew and Callixte, into enemies. Rwanda was as ruined as any spot on earth — 800,000 people were brutally slaughtered in 100 days. How could the country ever overcome such hatred and horror? It would take a miracle.

World Vision began relief and development work in war-ravaged Rwanda in 1994. In 1996, when thousands of families began to return to their villages in Rwanda, World Vision started a reconciliation and peacebuilding department. Hostility slowly yielded to faith and forgiveness, restoring communities and relationships like that of Andrew and Callixte. Though they are now friends again, Andrew and Callixte endured a long road to healing.

“The process of forgiveness involves expressing how you feel and saying, ‘Now I want peace in my heart; please forgive me. I don’t want to keep connected to the bad memories of when you did evil to me. I don’t want to be a prisoner of my pain,” says World Vision’s Josephine Munyeli, who has worked in Rwanda’s peace and reconciliation programs for two decades. “When the memories come, I don’t want to be devastated by them. I want to be able to sleep.”

World Vision developed a reconciliation model that endures today: a two-week program of sharing intensely personal memories of the genocide, learning new tools to manage deeply painful emotions, and embarking on a path to forgiveness. The approach has been replicated all over the country and embraced by the government. Read more

Story courtesy of World Vision US.