‘We have much to learn from Rwanda’ say victims group

THE community here could learn much from from the reconciliation and peace-building work of Rwanda, a local victims’ group has stressed.

Last year a delegation from the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) visited the central African country, which was devastated by a civil war in the mid-1990s between two ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. According to UN figures, 800,000 people were murdered in a genocide targetting the Tutsi during a 100 day period.

While there the SEFF group learned of the efforts in Rwanda to promote peace and reconciliation, and to see this work happening first hand.


Recently, SEFF hosted Christopher Mbonyingabo from CARSA Ministries on a reciprocal visit to Fermanagh. While here Mr Mbonyingabo attended a range of events, was introduced to survivors and families who had been bereaved by the Troubles, and was taken on a tour of the south east Fermanagh border.

“We value the relationship that we have developed with Christopher Mbonyingabo and CARSA Ministries, care of Thrive Ireland,” said SEFF director Kenny Donaldson.

“Our values system aligns and we each are clear of the need for perpetrators to come to a place of remorse and repentance and that there is also work for victims and survivors to do in best enabling them to attain a level peace and the ability to live again, as opposed to merely existing.

“We also share the analysis of the present, that a failure by perpetrators to acknowledge and to own what they have den and were party to is creating a huge barrier to the potential for progress towards possibly forgiveness and conciliation/reconciliation.”

Mr Donaldson said when the SEFF group had visited Rwanda they had witnessed the mission work of Mr Mbonyingabo and his colleagues, and the difference it was making in many lives.

He noted that 12 percent of the population of Rwanda had been killed in the genocide, which he noted would be the equivalent to the deaths of 175,000 people in the North.

Mr Donaldson concluded by stressing there was much we could learn here from the people of Rwanda and their peace building.


“Northern Ireland has much to learn from Rwanda, not least the power of the human spirit, the strength of community and the resolve to build a Nation from the ashes for which all might feel proud and empowered by,” he said.

“Our westernised arrogance around these issues needs to leave space for learning from those areas disparagingly referred to as third world nations.”

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