Welcome to my summer blog! As you have read in the description, I will be spending my summer in Kigali as an extended Peace Team member of the African Great Lakes Initiative. I am grateful to both Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, and the Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment for making this trip possible. I leave for Rwanda in four days, and wanted to take a moment to give some background information about my trip and what I’ll be doing doing for the next two months.
Rwanda has recovered remarkably well since the 1994 genocide in which almost one million people were killed in the course of 100 days. However, there is still a great deal to be done on the national and local levels in terms of both societal and interpersonal relations.
One of the most important organizations furthering individual and community healing in Rwanda is the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI). AGLI is an internationally respected organization founded by the Friends Peace Teams in 1999 in order to support peacemaking activities at the grassroots level in Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the Congo. AGLI funds and organizes many different peace-building programs, including Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops and Healing and Rebuilding our Communities workshops (HROC).
AVP is an international volunteer movement dedicated to teaching community building, mediation, and leadership skills through experiential workshops. I was introduced to AVP in Philadelphia last year, and spent two months last summer facilitating AVP workshops in a South African prison (also thanks to Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship). AVP has been bolstered in Rwanda by AGLI’s own program, Healing and Rebuilding our Communities.
The recently developed HROC program facilitates three-day workshops in various communities around the country between ten people from one side of the conflict, and ten people from the other. The goal of HROC is to restore normal relationships between the two sides. In Rwanda, this means Tutsi survivors of the genocide and the families of the Hutu perpetrators of the genocide. These workshops serve to rebuild and strengthen communities through conflict management, peace building, trauma healing, and reconciliation by sponsoring Peace Teams composed of members from local partners and the international community.
I will be helping to facilitate these workshops, as well as compiling a report for AGLI on a number of workshops held in resettlement camps in the eastern part of Rwanda. I imagine all of this is subject to change, so I will explain what I am doing as it unfolds.
I will update with more information once I’m there. Here are two pictures of Rwanda just to give more of a sense of the country’s geography.
Hope you enjoy, and please feel free to leave comments — I’d love to hear from all of you! My actual email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’d like to write at any time.
Here’s to an exciting next two months!