Trauma healing remains a pressing public health concern in Rwanda.  Interpeace and its local partners have contributed towards addressing this challenge by implementing a holistic peacebuilding programme that focused on mental health and psychosocial support, social cohesion, and economic development through collaborative livelihood to foster both individual and community healing.

This initiative was designed based on previous research studies by Interpeace and its partners (2015 & 2018), which indicated that many Rwandans still carry wounds from the Genocide. In some cases, the wounds have been passed down to the next generation which‚ÄĒalthough not directly impacted by the Genocide‚ÄĒmust contribute to the nation‚Äôs recovery. The programme also has based its interventions on Rwanda Mental Health Survey (RMHS, 2018), a nationwide population-based survey, which revealed that the prevalence of several mental disorders in Rwanda is higher than the global average.

Interpeace worked with experts from SeeD (Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development) to design structured psycho-social interventions, commonly known as ‚ÄúProtocols‚ÄĚ that guide the trauma healing and peace processes. Through those protocols, the programme:

  • offers healing spaces to Genocide survivors, Genocide perpetrators and their descendants to stimulate healing dialogue and truth-telling to restore trust, tolerance, and ensure mutual healing through sociotherapy.
  • strengthens mental health resilience of individuals and communities through group-based resilience-oriented therapy and support to existing infrastructure to strengthen mental health system from the grassroots.
  • promotes family cohesion and addresses intergenerational transmission of genocide legacies/trauma through multi-family healing spaces.
  • stimulates sustainable social and economic livelihoods resilience of individuals and communities through supporting collaborative livelihoods skills development and initiatives.
  • supports psychological rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners: a comprehensive and harmonized national curriculum was developed and will serve as guidance to correctional officers and partners in supporting inmates through the transition from rehabilitation during the incarceration into psychosocial reintegration in their families and communities.

To boost the roll-out of the programme and its alignment with national priorities, a decentralized Mental Health, and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) network was created. The objective is to pilot this model with different actors to build an integrated, multi-layered, and complementary support system at national and decentralized levels.

This programme was initially piloted in Bugesera District, Eastern Rwanda with funds from the European Union. It has been expanded to five more districts thanks to the financial support of the Embassy of Sweden in Rwanda, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).