“The psychosocial health support is more than a necessity in the post Gacaca process for promoting positive personalities growth and development for Rwandan society. It’s strongly aligned to one of the guiding principles of unity and reconciliation known as mutual healing of wounds while building trust based on truth telling, repentance and forgiveness for bright future.”NDAYISABA Fidèle, Executive Secretary of NURC

Rwanda has identified mental health and trauma healing as areas of priority. A 2018 Mental Health Survey revealed high prevalence of mental health disorders, particularly among survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. In addition, the National Unity and Reconciliation Policy recognises “serious levels of trauma” as a major effect of the genocide that still weighs heavily on society today. It identifies the healing of psychological wounds as a guiding principle on which unity and reconciliation are established. High levels of trauma, anxiety and depression make it more difficult for people to trust and forgive each other.

Trauma affects the ability to open up, receive and trust others, and it is a major cause of inter-community suspicions, especially between groups of genocide survivors and former prisoners. This has limited people’s ability to cooperate in shared, mutually beneficial economic activities.

Based on that observation, Rwanda’s 4th Health Sector StrategicPlan emphasises the need for holistic innovative programmes that simultaneously promote mental health service provision, advance social cohesion and support sustainable livelihoods.

In  order to address the highlighted problematic, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in partnership with Interpeace, have launched the pilot programme of reinforcing community capacity for social cohesion through societal trauma healing in Bugesera District.“This programme of Reinforcing Community Capacity for Social Cohesion and Reconciliation through Societal Trauma Healing with pilot in Bugesera District which proposes innovative holistic approaches that simultaneously promote mental health, social cohesion, and support sustainable livelihoods is a great contribution to our reconciliation journey especially in the area of Bugesera and its vicinity where it will be operating.A region which is among the most affected by the Genocide against Tutsi where it has been tried out even before 1994”.said the Executive Secretary of NURC.

During this event, National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and Interpeace have formalised institutional partnership, by formerly signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU will provide a framework for cooperation on trauma healing, social cohesion, and sustainable peacebuilding work in Rwanda, over the coming years.“We expect   added value from this programme and we hope that it will benefit from the existing initiatives within local partners and communities and enrich them. The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission thanks all partners in societal healing and commits its support and   collaboration for the success of this programme launched today”. Said the Executive Secretary of NURC

The programme is in line with, and will further inform, the Government’s policy of establishing community mental health services to improve the uptake among traumatised individuals of Government-funded mental health support. It is tailored to the context in Rwanda and is based on a core partnership and the shared expertise of the Rwanda National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, Prison Fellowship Rwanda and Interpeace.