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L'Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda
Trauma counselling workshop
Photo No. : P051107-1
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55 Lay Councillors Acquire Trauma Healing Skills
by Grace Mugabe
RWANDA 051107-1
November 7, 2005

[L'Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda - Rwanda] 55 lay councillors have been trained in the area of trauma healing. This was disclosed by Peninah Rutayitsire, the Episcopal Church co-odinator for trauma activities of the Diocese of Kigali.

She told journalists during a workshop that on the initiative of the Episcopal Church, 55 members, both men and women, have acquired trauma skills for the purpose of healing the affected population in their communities.

A one-week training workshop from October 24th to 28th at Maranyondo village brought together residents from the districts of Nyamata, Ngenda and Gashora.

Rutayitsire noted that key concepts like honesty, love, and confidentiality were taught to participants. "We have fulfilled our mission by training pastors because we trust them and regard them as ambassadors of God," she was quoted as saying, adding: "The church was prompted to intervene in areas of Nyamata, Gashora, and Ngenda due to what happened in the 1994 mayhem where around 400,000 people were massacred leaving the whole area in a state of quagmire."

She added that residents are traumatized not only by what they went through during the period of mayhem but due to the conditions they are in now, caused by diseases, conflicts and poverty, which have affected them psychologically. She singled out HIV/Aids and poverty to be behind most trauma in the country.

A trauma scientist told the journalists that people from different districts have been taught trauma skills so that they would go back to their respective communities and impart the knowledge acquired to their peers for the betterment of the nation.

"Our society needs such messages because they contribute in shaping morals of a given community," Damascene Rusangwa, a participant and a resident of Gashora, told the press.

Mariseri Mugenzi, an elderly resident and an Archdeacon of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda in Bugesera region, revealed to the press that Bugesera region used to be a dumping place for the Tutsis: "The past regimes of Presidents Kayibanda and Habyarimana dumped nearly 500,000 Tutsis in a huge pit commonly known as Uwabayanga pit found in Gashora. The deadly action started way back in 1959-1963 and escalated in 1994. So you can see that the whole populace was left traumatized. The church has obviously done a commendable job in innovating trauma healing projects in Bugesera," the archdeacon said.