Joint Project in the Regional Program of GIZ Civil Peace Service
CRASPD is involved in the development of a joint project alongside four partner organizations of the GIZ Civil Peace Service Regional Program in DR Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. To develop this joint project, for one week in July, two of the CRASPD staff members participated in an online training on collaborative project design that was facilitated by Sinarinzi consulting, a consultancy company based in Germany. They are now working with two Congolese and one Burundian partner organizations who are members of the Thematic Working Group “Nonviolent Conflict Transformation and Community Dialogue”.
Our Thematic Working Group is undertaking a mapping of regional peace actors and initiatives as well as conflict and peace factors in the African Great Lakes countries. We hope that the resulting list of initiatives and actors engaged in peace building at the regional level will serve as a basis for discussions on ongoing initiatives and potential points of cross-border collaboration and networking with and among them. To do this, we conducted a literature study of which a part was a list of regional peace actors based in Rwanda and details we know about their projects and approaches. In a meeting with graduates, CRASPD volunteers and final-year students, we prepared interviewers to collect data in Kigali, Huye and online or via phone to expand the existing small list of regional peace actors. The first week of interviews in Kigali, carried out by three volunteers already took place in Kigali in December 2020. In January and February 2021, we will continue interviews and proceed to analyze the data and present the findings to our partners in Burundi and DR Congo and hear about the status of their work on the regional peace actors mapping.
Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) Basic Workshop Online – with a link to an AVP Basic Workshop in Bujumbura
Since the security measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 prohibited physical meetings and travel beyond district borders, CRASPD decided to hold an AVP Basic Workshop online that had been part of a joint project of the GIZ Civil Peace Service Regional Program with Burundian partner CARAVI and Congolese partners APC and RAPI. The original idea had been to hold three in-person AVP Basic Workshops, one in Bukavu (DR Congo), one in Bujumbura (Burundi) and one in Huye in parallel. The facilitators would then provide a space for a handful of volunteers of each of the three workshops to connect: At the end of each workshop day, they would speak to each other online to get to know who were in the other workshops, exchange their experiences and share lessons learnt.
Since the Congolese partner organizations, due to administrative challenges in the GIZ Civil Peace Service program, were unable to conduct their workshop at the planned time, we went ahead with the workshops in Bujumbura in person and in Huye online. Surprisingly, the workshop conducted by CRASPD in Huye attracted as many participants from networking partners in Rwanda, like Friends Peace House and AJECL (Association des Jeunes de Saint Charles Lwanga) in Kigali, as from different departments of the PIASS Faculty of Development Studies in Huye. We had three exciting half-days in spite of many technical challenges due to difficulties with internet access. We got to know each other, worked through the four pillars of the Alternatives to Violence Program (affirmation, communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution) and explored the concept of Transforming Power.
Every evening, a few of the participants stayed online and held a meeting with participants of the sister workshop in Bujumbura. They found that, while our participants were mostly students and young participants, the Burundian participants of the umbrella organization for victim’s associations, CARAVI, were older but had very similar experiences with AVP: They confirmed that they were impressed by the insights they gained from sharing experiences with others and learning new ways of interacting constructively to stop violence. Many of the participants of the online workshop in Huye regretted that they had not been able to meet in person and physically in gathering, exercises and role plays. The team promised to explore how a follow-up day in person could be organized once district Borders open and physical meetings are allowed.
Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) – Online Introduction
CRASPD had planned to support eight volunteers of the four organizations in the Thematic Working Group “Nonviolent Conflict Transformation and Community Dialogue” of the GIZ Civil Peace Service Regional Program to participate in the International Facilitators’ Training of the Healing and Rebuilding our Communities (HROC). However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the HROC international facilitators’ training, which usually take place in Musanze, Rwanda, twice a year, had to be cancelled in 2020. CRASPD, in cooperation with the HROC Center in Musanze, then developed an online introduction of the HROC approach for interested staff, which was open to members of all partner organizations in the Regional GIZ Civil Peace Service program. The introduction gave an overview of what HROC is, where it came from, how an international HROC facilitators’ training works and how ‘Healing Companions’ trained there can be instrumental to support a path to joint healing in the communities from which they come. Thirteen staff and members of different organizations, five more than we would have been able to welcome in the training, took part and expressed gratitude to learn more about HROC.
Teambuilding Day with Good Neighbors Rwanda in December 2019
On December 20, 2019, a CRASPD team under the leadership of one of the Senior Lecturers of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies and consisting of the Assistant Coordinator, the Peace Building Officer, the International Peace Advisor and the Intern, who are all AVP facilitators, facilitated a team building day with 60 staff members from Good Neighbors Rwanda in Kigali. According to prior consultations with the management of the organization, we focused on boosting the team spirit in and beyond departments and on developing communication skills, as well as tools and tips for setting priorities.
Visit of IC Net Study Tour
From April 30 to May 4, 2019, participants of a peace study tour of the Japanese training and consultancy firm IC Net Limited.
The group was composed of people from different age groups, walks of life and professional backgrounds. What brought them together was an interest to learn more about peace and reconciliation processes and to get to know Rwanda, its history and its present situation.
Different joint activities with CRASPD were part of the visit of the IC net study group:
Envisioning Peace Through Art Workshop:
On May 1, 2019, Prof. Kyoko Okumoto, a Japanese scholar and facilitator from Osaka Jogakuin University who works in the fields of Peace Studies, Conflict Transformation, Nonviolent Intervention, and particularly focuses on the Arts-based Approaches to Peace work and Moe Sasaki who was the Facilitator and Program Coordinator of the tour for IC Net Limited invited for a workshop Envisioning Peace Through Art Workshop at PIASS: Using an arts-based approach, they supported the participants to understand peace from diverse perspectives borrowing from the different backgrounds and experiences of the participants. Together participants who came from the PIASS community of students and lecturers as well as the Japanese study tour group discussed what happens when peace is destroyed and what this destruction can bring about. Participants also looked towards how we may rebuild what has been destroyed and what new possibilities can come from it.
Participation in the Nyanza Commemoration and Introduction to the Workshop of the Umucyo Nyanza Women’s Association
On May 2, 2019, the group of Japanese visitors from the IC Net study trip, together with CRASPD team and some students of PIASS joined the Umucyo Nyanza Women’s Association in commemorating their relatives and friends who were murdered during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. The commemoration took place at Nyanza Genocide Memorial, where the staff personnel of the memorial gave a brief history about Nyanza during the genocide and an overview of the memorial site.
The commemoration activity included putting flowers on the memorial altar and lighting candles as the genocide survivors were mentioning the names of their beloved ones they lost during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. The group also visited the place where the bodies were laid and they were shown some of the properties of the genocide victims such as clothes, identity cards and driving licenses and some tools used by perpetrators.
Information and networking visit from the Presbyterian Church South Sudan
From Sunday, February 24, to Wednesday, February 27, 2019, PIASS and its Department of Peace and Conflict Studies had the honor and pleasure to welcome a delegation from the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. The visit was organized by Reverend Catherine Day, who is serving at the PIASS Faculty of Theology since many years as a Mission Co Worker sent by the Presbyterian Church of the USA. The visitors came from RECONCILE Peace Institute in Yei and from Nile Theological College (NTC) in Juba. Besides a meeting with the Vice Chancellor, an introduction to our work in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies by Dr. Kazuyuki and a presentation of CRASPD and our activities, we organized a mini session to familiarize the visitors with the Alternatives to Violence Program. For this purpose, Dr. Penine, meanwhile the Deputy Vice Chancellor of PIASS joined us, and we had invited some of the AVP facilitators we had trained in 2017 and 2018. After a round of introductions, where we showed that our AVPers are coming from different countries (Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania and other countries) and walks of life (different faculties and student clubs), we invited the visitors to join an affirmation exercise which they visibly enjoyed. One of them commented: “I have been working in prisons with youth offenders at the beginning of my ministry; if I imagine that they can get this message that there is –and others believe that there is – something good in them and that they can work on contributing to the wellbeing of others and the community, I trust that this can change their lives to the positive, and this is amazing.” The next day, the delegation traveled to Nyanza to visit the Umucyo Women’s Reconciliation and Livelihood project