On Tuesday the 27th May 2014 Duhumurizanye Iwacu Rwanda (DIR) was visited by representatives of Dutch embassies from Ethiopia (Onno Koopmans), South Soudan (Martijn Beerthuizen), Mali (Maaike de Langen), Burundi (Niels Veenis) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague (Roelof Haveman, Senior Policy Advisor Rule of Law). The visitors were accompanied by Vasco Rodrigues and Nina Bode from the Dutch Embassy in Kigali.
The objective of the day was to observe and learn from Rwanda’s experience in implementing sociotherapy in the context of transitional justice. DIR is implementing the Community Based Sociotherapy Program in the Eastern Province and is currently coordinating 36 sociotherapy groups in Bugesera. The Field Coordinator in the Eastern Province, Theophile Sewimfura, first explained the history of sociotherapy in Rwanda: it has started in Europe where it was a clinical-based approach and participants met specialists for group-counseling. But the approach of Rwanda became community based; socio-sessions are organized in the community, and facilitated by trained community members who are well aware of the context in which they are working. The Field coordinator explained that sociotherapy is especially relevant in this post-gacaca context, whereby issues that were not solved during gacaca can now be discussed in a non-juridical setting.
After a group discussion about the relevance of sociotherapy in Rwanda and its potential for other post-conflict societies, a visit to Nyamata memorial site was planned. From there the group went to visit two socio-groups, one composed by ex-prisoners and a socio-group of families in conflict.
By Aimé Kamana
Bugesera District Manager
Duhumurizanye Iwacu Rwanda