As Rwanda solemnly marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide that killed nearly one million people, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) continues to support the Rwandan people’s efforts toward reconciliation as they move into a peaceful and prosperous future.
Kerry Weber, managing editor at America magazine, writes about the Rwanda she witnessed just a few months ago when she traveled there as a CRS Egan Journalism Fellow. She tells of meeting people whose faith and personal strength allowed them to seek and grant forgiveness – despite their traumatic experiences – in order to lead peaceful lives today.
CRS, along with the Catholic Church in Rwanda, has worked with these people, helping to reconcile communities and foster forgiveness. Kerry writes:
“Oswald Samvura sits in a bright yellow office beside a large window at the Episcopal Justice and Peace Commission, a division of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda, the country’s equivalent of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. As program director, he has worked closely with Catholic Relief Services, as well as other partner agencies, to implement programs that foster reconciliation among survivors and perpetrators of the genocide.
Between 1998 and 2012 the commission worked with Catholic Relief Services on various peace-building projects in an effort to help both survivors and perpetrators see that each had something to learn from the other. And in many instances, these conversations have been fruitful. “The challenges of reconciliation are tied up with perception of ethnicity,” Mr. Samvura says. “It is difficult to bring these conflicting parties together, but it is possible. You might even find someone who survived the genocide who finds that the wife of a perpetrator is suffering more than he is.’”