Rwanda: CBS Rwanda Hosts Regional Conference on Intergenerational Healing and Peace Building

5 December 2022

CBS Rwanda is set to host a conference on intergenerational healing and peacebuilding in the great lakes region starting on December 6 at Kigali Serena Hotel.

The conference which will run until December 8 was organised by Community Based Sociotherapy Rwanda (CBS Rwanda) in partnership with E.A.R. Byumba Diocese, Duhumurizanye Iwace Rwanda (DIR), Prison Fellowship Rwanda (PFR), Africa Restoring Bridges Initiative (ARBI) and Paix et Développement Durable (PDD).

It is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) and the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC).

According to the conference organisers, exposure to collective traumatic events, including genocide and other types of mass violence, impacts mental health and psychosocial wellbeing and the level at which people can engage in peacebuilding processes.

"When the long-term psychosocial legacies of violence remain unaddressed, this may - in addition to continued personal and family suffering - also contribute to a deeply fractured society with possible cycles of repetition of violence across generations," reads part of a press release by CBS Rwanda.

The cross-cutting theme of the conference will be the linkage between mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and peacebuilding (PB). The conference takes an intergenerational perspective and will mainly focus on societies in the Great Lakes Region.

Community Based Sociotherapy (CBS also known as Mvura NKuvure) is one of the approaches initiated in Rwanda that aims to contribute to addressing psychosocial needs of the Rwandan population in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

CBS was developed in Rwanda from 2005 onwards and over time was also implemented in other conflict-affected settings, including North and South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Liberia, and more recently in Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

According to Lucie Nzaramba the Executive Director of CBS Rwanda, "The integration of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) approaches and peacebuilding is an emerging field, which is still being conceptualized by practitioners, academics, and funding agencies."

During the conference, particular attention will be paid to the outcomes of the currently running project "Mvura Nkuvure: Intergenerational healing and community reconciliation for sustainable peace", implemented in Rwanda since November 2018 by CBS Rwanda and its partners (EAR Byumba Diocese, DIR and PFR - and funded by EKN), and the projects "Impacting Hearts, Heads and Hands: Addressing intergenerational experiences of trauma and violence, promoting servant leadership and strengthening partnerships in the field of Community Based Sociotherapy" which was implemented in the DRC by CBS Rwanda, ARBI and PDD, in partnership with the Free University of Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam), funded by NUFFIC.

Thematically, the conference will tackle linkages between MHPSS and peacebuilding and the example of Community Based Sociotherapy; recent insights of trauma research; intergenerational legacies of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and other types of mass violence in the Great Lakes Region; psychosocial rehabilitation and reintegration of former genocidaire prisoners and ex-combatants into their family and community as well as localizing research: conceptualization and operationalization.

"When I visited a sociotherapy group," said Matthijs Wolters, Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, "I could really feel that the participants had gone through progress in interaction and had bonded over reaching a place where they were able to discuss essential aspects of their lives. These aspects of bonding and hopefulness were quite impressive to experience."

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