Sociotherapy served for me as a bridge between prison and community
I have spent 19 years in Muhanga prison as punishment due to the genocide crimes. I was imprisoned the 8th February 1995 and was released the 3rd March 2016. During my imprisonment I participated in different activities like involvement in teaching and literacy activities and involved in charitable activities. The introduction of sociotherapy in Muhanga prison in 2014 coincided with my releasing process. I was privileged to participate in a pilot sociotherapy group in 2014 and become a sociotherapist in 2015, facilitating subsequent sociotherapy groups in prison.
“"Sociotherapy helped me to feel cared for and to become more open to others".”
Before my release, I was asking myself how I will reintegrate my family and the community after 19 years of imprisonment and live with my wife and my neighbors in peace; and more so how I will overcome the shame of having been imprisoned for genocide crimes. However, with the support from other inmates through sociotherapy and with the help of sociotherapists from the community, I felt ready to face my family and the community.
I came today to visit the CBSP office in Muhanga just to express my gratitude for what you did for me. I remember that the day I was released, being accompanied by my son and my son-in-law, I met with one of the external sociotherapists (sociotherapist from the community who co-facilitate sociotherapy groups in prison). That sociotherapist warmly welcomed me and we went together to share a drink before I went back home. It was an exciting moment for me!
Sociotherapy helped me to adjust to a new life in my family. I humbled myself towards my wife; so far we are living in peace. Regarding my neighbors, I visited the family of my victims and we are now in a good relationship. On the other side, I found a problem regarding disagreement over land issues between some of my neighbors and my mother is now 92 years old. If I had not participated in sociotherapy sessions, I could have reacted in a conflictual way. Instead I decided to handle the issue in a positive way in order to live in harmony with all people in my community. I have also started doing mediation between my family members and even between neighbors who have conflicts amongst themselves.