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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

Introduction

Fourteen years ago, Rwanda burst onto the international consciousness with its genocide of alarming scale and brevity. Nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during a 100-day period starting in April of 1994, officially ending when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) overthrew the Hutu Power government sending millions of refugees in fear of revenge killings into neighboring countries. The RPF government imprisoned one hundred thousand alleged perpetrators of genocide, and the country set about the daunting task of rebuilding a nation that was suffering from the effects of unimaginable violence. One of the more neglected problems facing Rwanda today is the return of refugees who fled Rwanda either before or during the genocide. These individuals fall into a no-man’s land of terminology—they are not internally displaced persons as they have no “homes” to return to in Rwanda. Yet they are also not technically refugees since they have returned to their country of origin. These Rwandans have been placed in what we will call resettlement camps which are scattered across the country and often afflicted by extreme poverty with very few resources and a great deal of conflict. In response to the need for inter- and intrapersonal healing in Rwanda, the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) spanned the country with its experiential three-day workshops on healing and conflict resolution. Since AVP’s introduction to Rwanda in 2001 over five hundred workshops have been held in various communities throughout Rwanda and, recently, AVP efforts have begun to focus on the resettlement camps.

Between March 2007 and April 2008 thirty-one AVP workshops were held in four resettlement camps in eastern Rwanda. In an effort to evaluate the impact of these workshops fifty-nine men and women who participated in, facilitated or were affected by the workshops in these camps were interviewed. The response was unanimous: bring us more AVP. Send it to our husbands, our wives, our children, and our neighbors. Bring AVP into every school so our children can grow up knowing its lessons, because, as one AVP facilitator said, “If every Rwandan citizen could participate in AVP it would help our country.” This overwhelming appreciation of and continuing need for AVP was found everywhere we went. But why was AVP so well received? What was it that led to such a hunger for more workshops? Are there challenges or obstacles to the success of AVP when it comes to the specific situation of the displaced?

This evaluation seeks to understand the effect of AVP on Rwandans living in resettlement camps, what can AVP contribute in communities destroyed by lack of trust and anger and what steps can be taken in the future to ensure that the messages of nonviolence and peace are heard. As we conducted interviews and observed the effects of AVP in eastern Rwanda we began to see how AVP transforms those who experience it; producing positive change that spreads from person to person. All over the world AVP approaches nonviolence quietly and startles its participants with the transformative lessons that challenge them to find that spark of humanity in one another, no matter how many times they may have missed it before. The genocide is far from forgotten here in Rwanda. It lives on, vividly, in the memories of the majority of the population. Taking a close look at AVP’s work—its achievements, the challenges it confronts, and its room for growth—allows us a greater comprehension of what is needed in post-conflict reconstruction and healing here in Rwanda.

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