One year ago sociotherapy was introduced in Muhanga prison. To this date (November 2015) more than 160 inmates have already attended sociotherapy sessions. As prisoners open up and go within themselves through interactive dialogues, they come to realize how sociotherapy helps them to address their bitterness and remorseful feelings, it is a way of “finding a remedy for our inflated hearts”, one of the graduates expressed it.
At the occasion of the conviviality meeting of the closing of the second round held on 17 November 2015, we had the opportunity to hear additional steps made by inmates in their healing process since sociotherapy started in Muhanga prison in 2014.
From most of testimonies shared during the conviviality meeting, graduates who testified committed themselves to confess and asked to meet with their victims from outside in the communities. For thosewho are suffering from the consequences of the crimes they committed, “sociotherapy is a true way of restoring the moral responsibility of approaching the victims and ask them forgiveness”, said one of graduates.
This quest for reconciliation as the fruits of the healing process can be interpreted as a sign of remorse and an increase of awareness of the restoration of giving dignity back to the victims, and to Rwandan society in general. “The enemy of his neighbor is the enemy of his own country”, one of graduates shared.
In his closing remarks, the Director of Correction and Social Human Rights of Rwandan Correctional Service (RCS) stated that the fruits of socio-therapy sessions are corroborated by the good testimonies from the graduates. He also said that people who come together for healing each other and building trust within themselves experience major positive changes in their emotions, thoughts and behavior.
He added that each of these three can heal or mislead someone depending on how he/she interprets them and uses them. He ended his closing remark by emphasizing the uniqueness of Muhanga prison in terms of initiating sociotherapy for prisoners, which is contributing to changing prisoners by using the resources which are within the prisoners themselves.