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Mediation: Deliberate Attempts to Prevent Violence
David Bucura, AGLI Coordinator, Central Africa

Soon after AGLI introduced the Alternatives to Violence Program to the African Great Lakes region, I received requests to train mediators since there were so many festering sores that need to be attended to and the AVP facilitators did not feel qualified to mediate. Here are two common stories from Rwanda indicating the importance of trained mediators.

A mediator called Edith mediated between two neighbors who were fighting for a path to their houses. They have spent long time in different courts in Rwanda. The wife of one man in conflict took the case to Edith, and Edith asked her if was possible to ask the men in conflict for mediation. She went and convinced her husband to try mediation and she asked as well the other man. Both agreed for mediation and Edith started mediating with them. She spent five sessions listening and doing mediation. By the end, they agreed on what to do and not to continue to go to the courts. They regretted that a lot of money was spent in the courts with lawyers and travel. They asked forgiveness of each other and went to testify in their families with Edith. Now they are good neighbours but before mediation, they were enemies with no greetings from one another. Their children and their wives were in conflict. Now Edith says that their wives talk and the children play together.

Adrien Rususuruka, who is a mediator and a lawyer, gave a testimony on how mediation prevents violent conflicts. Two persons had a conflict, an employee and his boss. The boss did not pay his worker well, says the worker. They went to the lawyers because they wanted to bring this case in court. The worker went to Adrien, who is a mediator. He listened to the worker and, after hearing him, he asked him if he may go and ask his boss for mediation. After thinking, he agreed and he asked Adrien to be the mediator. He went back and one day after they came together for a mediation session. Adrien mediated between them and the boss paid the worker and now they are best friends. They avoided conflicts from the families and they avoided a lot of expenses because they would have had to pay the lawyers and the court.