Apart from leading sociotherapy groups, CBSP also organizes sensitization meetings in all its districts of operation every now and then. The main aim of these meetings is to increase the visibility of the program and the accountability of the organization. Simultaneously, they provide an opportunity to connect with the different main actors operating on district level, and to ensure the quality and sustainability of the program and its graduates.
During these meetings – which are usually attended by partners working in the field – the achievements and challenges of the program are extensively discussed. An important part of those meetings is to get recommendations and suggestions on the program, and to address the inquiries the participants have about the program. In this way, a better understanding of the sociotherapy program can be developed. Also, such discussions may lead to an improvement in the quality and sustainability of the program. As noticed by the Permanent Secretary of the Joint Action Development Forum (JADF) of Karongi district: “When people put their efforts together, nothing will stand in their way.”
Lately, CBSP hosted a sensitization meeting for its current and future partners in Karongi district. Local authorities from different levels, local NGO representatives, and a number of local journalists attended the meeting, which was held at Bethel Centre in Rubengera sector. CBSP was represented by the National Consortium Coordinator, the Field Coordinator of the Western province, and a couple of (intermediate) sociotherapists.
During the meeting, the Permanent Secretary of JADF appraised CBSP for the noticeable changes in the Karongi community: “I have come to understand that without a proper healing, one can never achieve a proper economic development.” Also, the participants testified on the impact of sociotherapy on unity and reconciliation. One of the participants clearly brought to the fore that sociotherapy reinforces the already present notion of unity and reconciliation.
The participant had publicly forgiven her neighbor for his role in the murder of her sister. Still, she never really felt at peace: she knew that his wife and children were cursing her for their suffering, which was caused by the absence of their husband and father who was the sole breadwinner of the family. The participant also testified that, whereas she had forgiven her neighbor for killing her sister, she never truly got over the fact that someone so close to her had harmed her that badly. The fact that their homes were neighboring each other, never gave her peace of mind.
During the sensitization meeting, the participant’s neighbor also testified that after he was released from prisoned, he never felt as if he was forgiven. He lived in hiding, and was told that there was a plot to kill him. It was sociotherapy that finally changed this situation. During the sociotherapy groups, he was able to have a face-to-face discussion with his neighbor. As a result, he narrated, “I now consider her as my sister, since my biological sister has disavowed me. My life couldn’t be any better and I have to thank sociotherapy for it.”
These testimonies, and the presentation on the achievements and challenges of the last three years, paved the way for questions, suggestions and recommendations by all participants. The representative of ITORERO and NURC in Karongi district finally closed the meeting with the following words: “Everything you will give them will be useless as long as they won’t have the will to use them properly. What you do (sociotherapy) is the healing and what we can do to help you is to insure the Sustainability of positive changes by supporting those who graduated from socio groups.”