6. Sociotherapy progam 2013 - 2016


Community-Based Sociotherapy Program in Post-Gacaca Rwanda

17th July 2013

Sportsview Hotel, Kigali

The new Community-Based Sociotherapy Program (CBSP) aims to contribute to the national process of transitional justice in Rwanda.

The first community-based sociotherapy program in Rwanda was initiated in 2005 as a contribution to the efforts undertaken by the government to deal with the effects of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and its preceding war, which turned Rwanda into a devastated society that has had to rebuild itself in all aspects. Particularly relevant in the rebuilding of Rwandan society is the creation of trust and mutual respect within Rwandan communities. In the past eight years, community-based sociotherapy has proven to be able to significantly contribute to this objective. Sociotherapy uses the group as a therapeutic medium in the establishment of trust, the creation of an open environment for discussion and the formation of peer-support structures. As such, sociotherapy as practiced in Rwanda assists people in dealing with the effects war and genocide on their daily lives and wellbeing and contributes to sustainable processes of reconciliation within communities.

As Rwanda has recently entered the post-Gacaca period, the newly designed community-based sociotherapy program specifically aims at contributing to the consolidation of the achievements of the Gacaca courts and the meeting of needs in terms of healing, reconciliation and social justice these courts left unaddressed.

The CBSP will be closely monitored through a Participatory Action Research (PAR) method, which will also form the basis for an (inter)national ‘linking and learning’ approach.

The three year program will be implemented in eight Districts - two in each of the four provinces of Rwanda - by a consortium of four national organizations: Prison Fellowship Rwanda, Byumba Diocese of the Anglican Church of Rwanda and Duhumurizanye Iwacu Rwanda and a fourth organization to be identified. The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) will provide overall strategic supervision.

The six major expected results are

  1. increased psychosocial well-being (including peace-of-mind and dignity), interpersonal reconciliation and social cohesion among people in places/neighborhoods where sociotherapy is implemented;

  2. increased capacity and involvement of community members in addressing psychosocial issues affecting individuals and communities and a strengthened ability to support each other in the process of healing and reconciliation;

  3. sustainability of sociotherapy groups for the sake of their psychosocial and economic development;

  4. comprehensive knowledge of the methods applied within sociotherapy and the impact of the intervention;

  5. increased local and national awareness of the methods and effectiveness of sociotherapy resulting in the expansion of the program through existing institutions;

  6. international recognition of the positive contribution that a program such as community-based sociotherapy can make to the process of transitional justice, which will facilitate the further development of sociotherapy programs in the Great Lakes Region and possibly other post-conflict countries.

See also:

Article daily newspaper the New Times, 19 July 2013

Church project to heal genocide scars

Article in kinyarwanda on Website Igehe

Kigali: A three year ‘You heal me, I heal you’ program was launched