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  • Karen Visser

Rwanda - Reconciliation through Empower

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

The stories from Empower never stop amazing us! They are literally mind blowing! ​CbL’s work in Rwanda is centred on trauma counselling, working with both victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide, in which over 1 million people were killed in just 100 days. Empower is the trauma rehabilitation and reconciliation program used by our local partners, helping people break free of the past. 

Here are just two quick testimonies from Empower participants this year – these stories were shared at a follow up session held several months after they had gone through the program. (Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the participants). 

Julian attended Empower with Rose, a genocide survivor. During Empower, he was able to ask for and be forgiven by Rose. Julian testified that the relationship between him and Rose had really changed after Empower, because Rose invited Julian into her home. Rose told her family that she had forgiven Julian even though he had killed her husband and her children. She said that she wanted to invite Julian to be a part of her family, because her family is small and they need people. Julian shared that he is so happy because even though he had heard that he was forgiven during Empower, Rose has demonstrated that this forgiveness is real, even now after they are back home. He really feels comfortable with Rose’s family and wants to be close to them and able to assist them. In their community, they rely on each other and he wants to be with them and help them in anything they need. He has seen that Empower really had power to help him restore his relationship with Rose. 

Peter is a genocide perpetrator who attended Empower. After Empower, he was still trying to convince all the participants and facilitators that he was innocent and did not commit genocide. The facilitators left Empower not really knowing Peter’s story. When it was time for the follow up session several months later, it was clear that Peter had changed and he wanted to tell everyone his story, without fear of hiding anything. Peter said that he really had hated Tutsis and thought they were dangerous people. During the genocide, he was with a group of Hutus who killed many people, and after the genocide ended, they fled to Congo in fear of what they had done. Five years later, Peter moved back to Rwanda after the Gacaca courts had started. He did not go to jail because he convinced the court he was innocent, and he was able to go home. Even though he was found innocent, he still lived in hatred of Tutsis because he knew inside that he was guilty. He spent many years suffering inside before coming to Empower. After hearing the teachings of Empower, Peter stopped hating Tutsis and even began to talk to his Tutsi neighbour. His neighbour was not in Empower, but he was able to see the change in Peter after he had attended the program. Peter shared that Empower helped him to become another person filled with love instead of hate, even love for Tutsis. The lessons of Empower changed him so much. Now he feels that he is a normal person, he knows how to be a friend to his body, to bless others, and to create ‘happy chemicals’ in his body.  

​These are just two stories of so many who’s lives have been completely transformed through what they have learnt and applied from Empower. This year alone, CbL has supported 429 people to participate in Empower. In addition, 459 people have been through a follow up session, to track their progress and receive further teaching and input as they continue their personal journeys of healing. We have also supported five training sessions for facilitators of Empower.

It’s been an incredible year and we are so thankful for your support that is enabling people to participate in Empower, which is so needed right across Rwanda. We’d love to expand and do more in the year ahead. It costs just $100 to enable someone to participate in this life-changing program – click here to donate.​In addition to the work of Empower, CbL has continued its education sponsorship program, with 22 students in primary / secondary school, and two students at university. If you haven’t read Brenda’s testimony, click here and check out her inspirational story.

​We’ve also been able to support families in crisis, building a new home for one family, and helping another with support for a medical emergency. All of this is only possible thanks to your generous support!

Compelled by Love is proud to be a partner for Project J566 Empowering Rwanda with Global Development Group (ABN 57 102 400 939). Tax deductible receipts for gifts over $2 with a preference for this approved development project will be issued by Global Development Group for project J566. If funds raised exceed the requirement for this project, funds may be directed to another approved activity.

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