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Your location>Home>Publications>PeaceWays>Spring 2009

   
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Executive Summary

Introduction

Context

AVP/Implementing Organization

Evaluation Methodolgy

Findings

Recommendations for the Futute

Conclusion

Appendices

Findings

Six major conclusions are identified from our interviews and observations. We begin with life before AVP, in the words of those interviewed, and how each individual felt towards others prior to the workshops. Then we explore the theme of transformation—the most inspiring and powerful testament of AVP—and the various ways in which participants felt change in their lives. Next we look at specific lessons from AVP which participants report using in response to conflict in the camps. We then explore how overall community relations were affected by the presence of AVP in each camp, and how AVP produces a “ripple effect” which contributes to community transformation. Finally we consider obstacles that challenge AVP in these areas.

A. Before AVP: “We Had Wounds in Our Hearts”
Hatred, Revenge, Fear and Trauma
“ Our hearts were hurt because of the situation. We had wounds in our hearts,” said Nyirabatesi Donata, a participant in Ndego. Her words express the physicality of the emotional pain suffered by Donata and others in the camps. The majority of the people we spoke with reported having feelings of anger, hatred, fear, a desire for revenge, or the effects of trauma at some point in their lives. The unimaginable experience of witnessing and surviving genocide, or being violently chased from your home by people once considered friends is something that can sap the ability to feel love from one’s heart. Such violent pasts can haunt an individual—and the darkness of doubt, fear and worry drowns out the light of hope, friendship and compassion.

People we spoke with in Nemba, Ndego and Kageyo often recounted the extreme fear or hatred they had felt upon arriving in Rwanda. “I had a lot of fear in my heart. I thought the Rwandans here would kill us, or that the Tanzanians would come here to kill us too,” said Musabwe Maria, a participant in Nemba. Another participant, Mukanyangezi Aderita, who was forced to leave her children behind when she fled Tanzania, said, “I knew that if I had a gun, I could go kill them. I had everything there, and I left everything when they chased us. It is impossible to love after that.”

Still others harbored deep resentment and sought revenge against those who had inflicted such pain: “Before AVP came here to train us, we hated those people who chased us and we prayed to God that they would be hurt like they had hurt us.” These kinds of feelings are like infections that eat away at a person, and for some, slowly destroy any hope for something better to come.


B. Transformation: We Saw the “Impossible Become Possible”
Every person we interviewed told us that AVP helped banish or at least alleviate these feelings of fear or hatred. AVP acted as a metaphorical balm of sorts for these ‘wounded hearts,’ aiding a transformation in which “we have seen what we thought was impossible become possible,” in the words of one participant from Kageyo. Another participant marveled, “you can see this change!” From the impossible to the possible, and the possible being visible healing and peace, is nothing short of miraculous to many with whom we spoke. In this section we will explore the various levels of transformation that participants, leaders and facilitators touched upon, and how they intertwine to build something much stronger than each individual strand—a more peaceful and nonviolent community.

Self-Confidence: “I am also Somebody”
That there is something good within each of us is a fundamental belief that informs each and every activity of AVP. Those who truly understand nonviolence realize the immense amount of courage and self-respect that things like forgiveness, patience, trust, hope and communication require. For this reason, we have begun with the most fundamental requirement for nonviolence: self-confidence.

AVP has done a lot. Before AVP I couldn’t stand in front of people and teach them. I had a complex where I couldn’t be in front of people. After AVP, I came to realize that I am also somebody. Now, people even call me to teach them about violence and nonviolence.
-- Nyiraneza Mary, Ndego

An AVP facilitator and genocide survivor, Solange, acknowledged that “AVP helped me a lot, because I was able to stay with people and I came to know my ability—what I can do, what I am capable of.” Trauma and violence can shatter a person’s sense of self and perception of self-worth. To regain such knowledge and respect of self is an enormous leap forward in the process of rebuilding and the ability to be nonviolent.

With self-confidence and self-awareness comes the ability to admit when one has done wrong. There is a sense of responsibility inherent to self-respect and taking responsibility for one’s actions is another integral part of healing and moving forward. We encountered awareness of the importance of humility and accountability in many interviews, like the following.

Before AVP, I had a spirit of rejection in me. I felt that I was a nobody. But now I feel that I am somebody because of AVP. After AVP, I knew how to forgive and how to humble myself. Now I can apologize for my sins. A lot changed in my life. In short, before AVP, when I made a mistake I wouldn’t believe that I had done it. But after AVP, when I wrong somebody, I am able to go and say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” to that person.
-- Niyonteze Helen, Kageyo

Go to next page: Findings continued