School dialogue clubs in Rwanda

During the past five years International Alert has brought victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide together through trauma counselling, dialogue clubs and microfinance. The work focuses on strengthening social cohesion and providing economic opportunities for people divided by conflict, helping them to move forward, rebuild their lives and avoid the risk of renewed conflict.

While significant progress has been made, tensions remain high especially among young people due to untreated trauma and lack of economic and educational opportunities. Therefore using the methods that have already been successful, Alert has started to address the plight of the Rwandan youth. We want to involve youth in dialogue and reconciliation initiatives, while delivering vocational training opportunities.

We also want to address new sources of trauma –‘trans-generational transmission of trauma’, whereby children who did not experience the traumatic events themselves, are still affected by its aftermath due to their interactions with the older generation who did experience them.

Alert’s Dialogue Clubs will help and encourage young people to play a role in rebuilding Rwanda. Young people like Colotirada, who took part in one of our Dialogue Clubs:

I am a Hutu. I joined the Club because I wanted to understand the causes of the genocide and what solutions are being pursued in the future to establish peace and reduce the anger between Hutu and Tutsi, as we are not taught this period of history in school.

The Club gave me the confidence to talk to my parents openly, I convinced them to seek forgiveness from an old woman survivor, whose family home was destroyed by my father. My parents also paid the woman back RF 100,000 in retribution for the loss she suffered.

The club’s philosophy and training has helped my family and especially me to re-think the causes of conflict and how to avoid it...especially to reduce rumour and prejudice, which triggers aggression.

Working with the youth will help break the cycle of hatred and discrimination being passed on, help lift them and their families out of poverty, and encourage understanding, tolerance and interaction.

By supporting International Alert today you could be helping young people like Colotirada come to terms with what has happened and find a way forward.

To find out more about this project please click here.