Twenty years after the genocide, deep-rooted trauma still haunts many people in Rwanda.
Our reconciliation work brings together survivors and perpetrators of the genocide to help them move forward and rebuild their lives together.
Claire and Beata met at one of International Alert’s ‘dialogue clubs’, where people have the opportunity to share their feelings and experiences of the genocide. This is their story.
"During the genocide, life changed completely," says Claire. "I had a good life before the genocide. I had a family and a lot of people close by to help me. Now I just have one family member left alive. I remember running down to the River Akanyaru and seeing Beata kill two of my sisters and one of my brothers from where I was hiding.
"When the genocide ended I would remember everything that had happened every time I saw Beata. We never spoke when we met, but there was a lot of fear in both our eyes. But having gone through the International Alert training about peace and how to forgive those who had committed crimes against us, I realised that Beata deserved the chance to build a future for herself.
"When the programme ended, Beata visited me at home. I received her because by this point I genuinely believed that she had come to seek forgiveness for herself and her crimes. Since then, we have become really good friends.
"My vision for the future is that the Alert programme and its teachings are offered to more people. I believe that the programme should go hand in hand with justice, to help our country move forward."
It is an experience that has meant a lot to Beata as well.
"When the genocide started, there were a lot of killings," says Beata. "I saw many people being killed and thrown into the River Akanyaru. At that point, I had to respond to what was happening and, as a result, I ended up in jail for 11 years. At the Gacaca trials, I openly spoke about what I saw and what I did. But even after my confession, I still felt guilt within my heart and I knew that I needed to seek forgiveness from Claire personally.
"When I was released from jail, I attended International Alert’s programme, where I found myself sharing the same room as Claire. I was scared and feared that I might be attacked in vengeance. After attending Alert’s numerous training and counselling sessions, I knew I had to ask for forgiveness from Claire personally. When Claire accepted my apology, the fear I felt slowly started to disappear. Now, Claire is a good friend. I consider her to be my best friend.
"My vision for the future is one of peace. What happened here in Rwanda should never be allowed to happen here again, or anywhere in the world.
"I would like to thank the Alert programme for helping to give me the courage to seek forgiveness."
By making a donation of £5 today, you will help more people like Claire and Beata to rebuild their lives, working together for a future without violence.
Because the world needs more peace right now, not less.