In 2012 I visited some of the Rwandans Dave had filmed. They gathered close as I opened my laptop and played some of the stories he had created from the footage and I explained how we were using it. I showed them parts of Vanishing Point, the secondary school curriculum. Their response was gasps of amazement, smiling faces and then tears of joy. One group said “We have had 100 people come and take our story, but you are the first to return to say ‘thank you’ and to tell us how you are using the information.”
I was moved when some said the after-effects of their suffering was helped by knowing that “Other people could know from our experience that violence is not a solution, only a problem which leads to more violence”. These Rwandans were comforted by the thought that their story is both a warning to the world and an encouragement for those who need healing from the effects of painful events.
Showing these videos opened a way to deepen discussion with both victims and perpetrators. It increased my appreciation of the redirected lives of these humble people. I found similar openness when discussing the material and donating some of the footage, to the Head of the Rwandan National Unity & Reconciliation Commission [NURC].
On my way back to Australia I pondered ”Why have I been given the privilege of sharing the journey of so many Rwandans over 17 years? What am I to do with the material that they have entrusted to me?” I recalled many of their reflections on their painful losses, with its shame and blame, following by seeking a degree of healing and recovery, leading them from lives of fear and uncertainty towards hope and restoration.
Part of my reflection about the curriculum material was that it is not appropriate to bring a focus on deep suffering which may stir painful or difficult memories and emotions from those interacting with the material in school classrooms. Teachers are not trained nor employed to be counsellors, even though daily they cope with the emotions and struggles of those in their care.
I resolved to write a book of my rich involvement with the Rwandan experience. So I stepped onto the path to writing a manuscript which is due for publication in the middle of 2015. In my next blog I will update you on the exciting developments in this journey.
What have you come to appreciate from your reading about Rwanda’s recovery?
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