MHPSS RWANDA

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Rwanda Societal Healing Insights

This page provides insights on interventions and lessons learned of Interpeace’s holistic approach to Societal Trauma Healing and peacebuilding in Rwanda. It is related to a programme that simultaneously addresses mental health, strengthens social cohesion, and stimulates community-based collaborative livelihoods.

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Figures of the pilot programme implemented in Bugesera
(October 2020 ‚Äď September 2022)

People reached

0
0%
3323 male
0%
3990 female
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Figures of the pilot programme implemented in Bugesera
(October 2020 ‚Äď September 2022)

Multifamily therapy

0
groups / spaces
0
graduates
0%
203 male
0%
231 female
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Figures of the pilot programme implemented in Bugesera
(October 2020 ‚Äď September 2022)

Resilience-oriented therapy

0
groups / spaces
0
graduates
0%
41 male
0%
59 female
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Figures of the pilot programme implemented in Bugesera
(October 2020 ‚Äď September 2022)

Collaborative Livelihoods initiatives

0
groups supported
0
members
0%
49 male
0%
51 female
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Figures of the pilot programme implemented in Bugesera
(October 2020 ‚Äď September 2022)

Sociotherapy

0
groups / spaces
0
graduates
0%
710 male
0%
730 female
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Healing groups / spaces created:

0
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Community-based facilitators trained to facilitate healing spaces:

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People trained in Life Skills and Psychoeducation:

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Mental Health Professionals trained on the use of contextualised MHPSS protocols:

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Event

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NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SOCIETAL HEALING IN RWANDA
Theme: Rethinking Societal Trauma Healing Approaches

Outcomes of the Societal Trauma Healing Pilot Programme, implemented in Bugesera District (October 2020 - September 2022)

09 March 2023

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On March 9th, 2023, a National Conference was organised with the aim of sharing the successes, challenges and lessons identified from the implementation of the Societal Trauma Healing pilot programme implemented in Bugesera District, eastern Rwanda from October 2020 ‚Äď September 2022 with financial support of the European Union.

The conference also familiarized policymakers, trauma healing and peacebuilding actors, government officials, the media, academia, and others with the programme approaches to stir up debate around societal trauma healing approaches in Rwanda.

Participants aimed to discuss, rethink, and reshape societal healing approaches and methods for a contextualized solution and better collaboration and coordination among actors in the sector. The event was also an opportunity to engage stakeholders on the way forward regarding the sustainability of the programme’s achievements. 

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Moderator:

Adelite Mukamana

Senior Psychologist, Prison Fellowship Rwanda

Speakers:

Francoise Mukaremera

Graduate of the Sociotherapy for Adults Group

Francoise Mukaremera, 49, is a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The horrors she experienced resulted in a major depression associated with self-isolation. Her healing journey started when she voluntarily joined a community-based Sociotherapy Healing Groups/Space created in Juru Sector, Bugesera District. The healing dialogues helped her to heal from her deep wounds and reconnect with people. Mukaremera has become a model for her community. She is now supporting other wounded people to heal, inspiring them with personal healing experiences.

Valens Ndanzineza

Graduate of the Sociotherapy for Youth Group

Valens Nsanzineza’s father is an ex-prisoner who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for crimes he committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Having a parent who committed genocide crimes, affected Nsanzineza’s life. He lived in constant shame, guilt, rejection, and trauma because of his father’s crimes. He found healing and solace after voluntarily joining a community-based Sociotherapy healing space created exclusively for youth. Now, he has regained inner peace and confidence. The healing dialogues have encouraged him to take bold initiative to reconcile his family and the families his father wronged.

Faustin Bizimana

Graduate of the Multifamily Healing Space/Group

Faustin Bizimana is an ex-prisoner who served 10 years in prison for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. His release sparked conflict within his family and exacerbated the rejection and hatred developed by his family members against him. Bizimana did not want to tell his family the truth about his crimes during the genocide. Joining a Multifamily healing space/group created in Juru Sector, Bugesera District, was the beginning of a transformation journey. Bizimana was able to heal and tell his family the truth about his role in the Genocide. He asked for forgiveness from people he wronged. The healing dialogues enabled Bizimana’s family to establish an honest dialogue. They have regained peace and restored family communication and cohesiveness.

Vestine Nirere

Collaborative Livelihoods

Vestine Nirere, 21, found healing and comfort from Sociotherapy Healing Space/Group for young people created in Mareba Sector, Bugesera District. After her father was imprisoned for the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi related crimes, the family experienced extreme poverty, exacerbated by shame, fear and feelings of guilt. She had to drop out of school and take care of her two younger siblings as their mother died afterwards. The healing dialogues have helped her to regain self-acceptance, confidence, and hope for the future. She was supported to acquire hands-on skills in tailoring that have enabled her to earn a living. She is now able to cater for the family and meet the needs of her little sister who is still in high school.

Rachid Emmanuel Rukundo

Community-based Facilitator

Rachid Emmanuel Rukundo, 36, is a community-based facilitator of the healing spaces/groups. Under the Bugesera pilot programme, he has facilitated eight Sociotherapy and Multifamily therapy healing groups. Like other facilitators, Rachid was selected from within his community based on his integrity, honesty, and interest in serving his community. For him, the most rewarding was to see individuals and families from his community who considered each other as worst enemies together again, reestablishing relationships and trust. The skills he learnt have helped him to better support other members of his community to settle their disputes and find solace in the healing process.

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Moderator:

Margret Mahoro

Senior Programme Manager ‚Äď Interpeace

Speakers:

Ernest Dukuzumuremyi

DMEL Advisor, Rwanda & the Great Lakes Region - Interpeace

SP Janet Bugingo

Ag. Division Manager of Correction & Social Affairs, Rwanda Correctional Service

Bishop Deogratias Gashagaza

Executive Director, Prison Fellowship Rwanda(PFR)

Dr Jean Damascene Iyamuremye

Director of Psychiatric Care, Rwanda Biomedical Centre(RBC)

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1 Mobile Mental Health Clinic launched.

17 Motorcycles provided to district hospital and health centers.

17 Tablets provided to district hospital and health centers for data collection and safeguarding.

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One Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) facility launched in Bugesera Prison

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One curriculum for prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration has been developed.

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4 MHPSS protocols and 2 curricula on social and emotional skills and conflict mediation were developed.

About the programme

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29 years after the genocide against the Tutsi, trauma healing remains a pressing public health concern in Rwanda. Interpeace and its local partners are contributing towards addressing this challenge by implementing a holistic peacebuilding programme that focuses on mental health and psychosocial support, social cohesion, and economic development through collaborative livelihood initiatives. A combination of these three pillars into one programme is meant to foster both individual and community healing as well as resilience.

This programme 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 younger generations which‚ÄĒalthough they were born after the Genocide‚ÄĒ live with its consequences and must contribute to the nation‚Äôs recovery. The programme interventions were also informed by the 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.

Programme Pillars

  • Mental health and psychosocial support
  • Social cohesion and reconciliation
  • Prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration
  • Collaborative economic livelihoods

Interpeace worked with experts from the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD) from Cyprus and a team of national experts to design structured psycho-social interventions, commonly known as ‚ÄúProtocols,‚ÄĚ that guide the trauma healing and peace processes. The protocols had to be grounded in the Rwandan context and culture but enriched with global good practices. Those include Resilience-oriented therapy protocol, Multifamily therapy protocol, Adaptation to sociotherapy protocol, Collaborative Livelihoods (COLIVE) protocol, Prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration curriculum, Social and emotional skills curriculum and conflict mediation and transformation curriculum. Through those tools, 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;
  • Strengthens mental health awareness and service provision through support to existing healthcare services infrastructure, especially at the local level;
  • Promotes family cohesion and addresses intergenerational transmission of genocide legacies;
  • Stimulates sustainable economic livelihoods of individuals and communities through collaborative initiatives that are both sources of income but also platforms for continuous peer-support and healing,
  • Promotes psychological rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners; and
  • Strengthens the capacities of local leaders, teachers, and correctional officers on trauma-sensitive leadership.

The programme is aligned with national priorities, in particular the decentralization of Mental Health service provision as well as strengthening community cohesion and resilience. To this end, Interpeace and its local partners have created a Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) network in the districts of the programme operations. The objective is to pilot this model with different actors to build an integrated, multi-systemic, and complementary support system at national and decentralized levels.

This programme was initially piloted in Bugesera District, Eastern Rwanda (October 2020 ‚Äď September 2022) with funds from the European Union. It has been expanded to five more districts thanks to the financial support of the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Approach & Intervention

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Approach

The programme implementation is supported by various strategies developed to ensure its effectiveness and sustainability:

  • Conduct research to design evidence-based and context-sensitive interventions that can inspire other actors (government and non-governmental) programmes and strategies on trauma healing, social cohesion, and socio-economic resilience in Rwanda.
  • Develop scientific and contextualized tools (protocols and curricula) based on identified needs.
  • Using community facilitators who are trusted individuals selected from within the targeted communities to lead healing dialogues.
  • Strengthen local capacities through partnerships with community-based organisations and public health institutions.
  • Reinforce mental health and psychosocial coordination network from local to central level, to facilitate integration of mental health and psychosocial support into existing policies and infrastructure.

Interventions

  • Community-based healing spaces/groups to facilitate mutual healing through Sociotherapy, Resilience-oriented therapy, Multifamily therapy, and Collaborative Livelihoods.
  • Capacity building and operational support to district hospitals and lower-level health centers to strengthen decentralization of mental health and psychosocial support services. Contribute to policy development through research and conducting regular multi-stakeholder policy dialogues at local and national levels.
  • Supporting community-based enterprises, developed by youth and adults who ‚Äė‚Äôgraduate‚Äô‚Äô from healing spaces/groups, as means to enhance sustainable living as well as provide platforms for continuous joint healing journey.
  • Supporting Rwanda Correctional Service‚Äôs work on psychological rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners through psychosocial support and acquisition of Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) skills.
  • Strengthening social and emotional as well as entrepreneurship skills for targeted community members, with particular emphasis on youth.

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