Rwanda: Healing the brokenhearted

Fr Emmanuel
Fr Emmanuel

For World Mission Sunday in 2016, Missio shared the work of the Church in Rwanda. Work that continues over twenty years after the horrific genocide that devastated the Rwandan people and shocked the world.

Following years of ethnic tension, a series of mass killings violently broke out in Rwanda in April 1994. Over a period of one hundred days, approximately one million people – twenty per cent of the population – were brutally tortured and killed.

Since that time, Fr Emmanuel Nsengiyumva has dedicated his life to reaching out to his fellow Rwandans. His desire for his people is that through forgiveness their broken hearts may be healed:

‘The Church has been a sign of hope and a pillar of recovery for all devastated values during the genocide.’

‘The Church has helped us to be strong’

Photographs from the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum
A display of photographs from the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum

After the genocide, many perpetrators went to prison. But having served their time, many of these prisoners are now returning to the neighbourhoods they brutalised. Many Priests, Sisters and Brothers in Rwanda are supporting these communities through counselling and healing workshops, which focus on forgiveness and mercy. One of the survivors shared:

‘The church has helped us to be strong, the priests have tried to bring our community together.’

Former prisoners and survivors have been working through the ‘Two Ways Healing’ programme, where the perpetrators have ‘the key of asking for forgiveness’ and the survivors have ‘the key of forgiving’.

The programme encourages the perpetrators to truthfully ask for forgiveness from survivors, whom they know and live with daily. Meanwhile the survivors can find space and strength to forgive sincerely, so that both parties can progress in their mutual journey of healing and reconciliation.

This process, which Missio supports, is conducted within an intensive pastoral care programme. The former prisoners meet every week for six months. And after three months, they begin to connect with the survivors, asking for forgiveness and gradually reconnecting with their communities and with the Church.

You make this possible

With your support, more parishes have implemented similar life-giving programmes. And there is so much more to do! Your prayers and donations make this vital work possible: you’re helping missionaries help conflict-torn communities find peace and reconciliation. Thank you for working with us. Together we can bring hope and healing.

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