Listening Session Can Change Someone’s Life
Zawadi Nikuzi, HROC-Coordinator, North Kivu, Congo
When I got the invitation to attend the listening
session, I was filled with curiosity. When I was told to say my healing
name and its meaning and after we were told to step in the circle according
to what was asked, I said this to myself, “This is a waste of
time; it is childish. I would rather go do my errands.” But I
decided to stay so that I do not disappoint the person who invited me.
I do not regret attending this session for I was relieved from many
things which were troubling me.
In some African cultures it is not good to share your
problems in public, let alone with strangers. It is believed that shedding
tears is for women and, when a boy is crying, he is told that he is
behaving like a woman. A man should not shed tears for man’s tears
run to his stomach! (Rwandan proverb). What we have realized is that
some of these proverbs are outdated because these were applicable long
ago when people lived in peace.
After the M23 rebel forces left Goma, people were desperate
to rebuild their lives, to move on but it was not that easy. People’s
hearts were heavy filled with fear, hate and they were hopeless and
helpless. Those in the internally displaced persons’ camps were
totally confused wondering whether to go back to their villages because
the safe haven was no longer safe or stay in the camps and wait for
the unknown because there were rumors that the M23 was coming back to
recapture the town of Goma. With the help of AGLI, we organized nineteen
listening sessions which were attended by 382 people. It is a one day
session and we invite twenty people for each session which is conducted
by three facilitators. The agenda is easy and very basic with topics
bringing people together. People are not used to attending sessions
where they do not write so you find some participants trying to get
a piece of paper just to write one or two things. The facilitators keep
on reminding them not to write rather to listen what is being said.
We have experienced a lot of things in life. As
I grew up I was told not to share my problems with people if I cannot
get solutions. When I got here, I did not know what to expect. When
I saw on the agenda “trauma stories,” I thought we would
hear stories from other countries or people. I did not know that I came
to share my story to strangers. When my turn came, I did not know which
one to share for my life is full of trauma from my childhood to this
very moment. As I was sharing I was fighting my tears because really
men do not cry! Then I decided to let go and I cried and it has brought
some relief. I have known the importance of sharing, my mask has fallen
today, most people think I have no problems but I have them like anyone
else. Please continue with these sessions to set free guys like me.
As I said it is not easy to open up to strangers in
public but as participants gain confidence they do and do not want to
leave the session. The result has been great -- more than what we expected.
People shared their stories of trauma and it was quite overwhelming.
We have realized that the need is big. We plan to have a listening room
which will be opened during the week from Monday to Friday. There is
need for basic HROC trainings to help people understand more and be
equipped. We also get a lot of recommendations for trauma healing sessions
for children. I think it is time we begin to plan and see what we can
do to help the children who have experienced violence.
This day has been really helpful, I gained twice.
It is usually hard for me to sit and listen to someone’s problems
for more than 30 minutes. I was able to listen to people’s stories
of trauma without complaining. Then, when my time came, people listened
to me with love and compassion and I realized how I have been unfair
to others. As I shared my story I could see people’s encouragement
through their eyes and I felt relieved that I was not exposing myself
rather getting solutions to my problems for I was able to hear how others
deal with different problems. I will be sharing my stories and listen
to those who need my help.