The Rwandan society is still marked by the wounds left by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and the great lakes region is tremored by violence, discrimination and dissimilarity.
To respond to this, Never Again Rwanda (NAR) initiated Spaces for Peace around the country, where diverse groups of citizens assemble monthly to dialogue on delicate issues, through a societal healing process that strengthens the societal ability to openly and peacefully address conflict.
One of the running spaces is the “Peace & Real life club” composed of students attending Groupe Scolaire Byumba – INYANGE.
On February 8th 2017, the club bringing together 26 youth from various social background held its monthly Peace dialogue. The 2 hours dialogue was attended by a delegation from the Embassy of Sweden in Kigali - Rwanda led by H.E Ambassador Jenny Ohlsson, joined by the Mayor of Gicumbi District, Mr. Juvenal MUDAHERANWA and NAR Country Director, Joseph Ryarasa Nkurunziza.
“My club - Peace &Real life - brought me out of loneliness. Now, I feel empowered to help other persons in isolation”, self-confessed Grace TUYAMBAZE, the youngest of the club while her fellow Israel MWISENEZA, aged 24 acknowledges that skills acquired from the monthly Peace dialogue helped him acquire non-violent methods to solve conflicts, which led him get back to his cooperative that had unfairly rejected him.
Reacting to the club members testimonies, the Ambassador commended their efforts in building a peaceful society: “You are at the perfect age to influence your schoolmates, siblings, parents, and a wider community”, she said.
Among the highlighted club achievements, highly acclaimed was the fact of bringing together local students (Rwandese) and those from Gihembe Refugee camp (Congolese) who used to perceive each other as antagonists, resulting from typecasts and dissimilarities.
The Mayor of Gicumbi District, who attended the dialogue, applauded the club members’ involvement in Peace initiatives and pledged to replicate the Never again Rwanda model in other schools.
A call for the club members to go out and preach the gospel of peace was made by Dr. Joseph Ryarasa Nkurunziza, NAR country Director; “ You should learn from your various background so to shape your peaceful future, and that of a country”, he mentioned.
The Safe Spaces around the country are providing an open environment enabling for discussing sensitive topics, as part of a 4 years Societal Healing and Participatory Governance (SHPG) for sustainable Peace in Rwanda, co-implemented by Never Again Rwanda (NAR) and International Alliance for Peace (Interpeace) with the support from the Government of Sweden.