Never Again Rwanda welcomed 14 participants from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Rwanda to its 10th semi-annual Peace Building Institute Monday.Eager to learn from Rwanda’s experience transitioning from genocide to peace, the 14 young people vigorously took notes and participated in vibrant discussion, while gaining the knowledge they need to build peace within their own communities.
The 2014-2015 Peace Building Institute’s participants, many of whom are university students – came from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Rwanda to take part in the 13-day retreat. The Peace Building Institute has two sessions annually: one in December- January to train African peace builders and another in May -June which is open to participants from any country around the globe.
Dr. Joseph R. Nkurunziza, president and co-founder of Never Again Rwanda, gave the opening presentation to the 2014-2015 group, stressing the importance of youth in promoting peace and the unique challenges that African countries face in achieving good governance.”We are looking to create a global network of responsible leaders who can end conflict,” Nkurunziza said, adding that the skills the participants would gain during the Peace Building Institute (PBI) would enable them to address issues within their own communities.
Over the past three days, PBI participants have visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi and the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide. They screened parts of the movie “Ghosts of Rwanda” to enhance their understanding of the political conditions surrounding the 1994 genocide perpetrated against Tutsis and have been taught the 10 warning signs of genocide through lectures and group discussion.
The group has also become familiar with the “Peace Circle” a valuable tool that can be used to facilitate dialogue and ease tensions.
Shirley Otube, a 22-year-old student from Nairobi, Kenya who traveled to Kigali to participate in the PBI, said she thinks the Peace Circle could be an effective tool to against to reduce tensions in her community.”In our country, people didn’t get the chance to heal, so there’s a revenge mentality and a lot of fear,”Otube said. “I want to take the peace circle back because it allows people to open up and to express themselves without fear of judgment.”
Odeth Kantengwa, a lecturer at the Independent University of Kigali who facilitated presentations, discussion and peace circles for the PBI participants, said she was pleased to see such enthusiasm among the 14 young leaders.”I think that they are very concerned as youth and they are very eager to learn about how to promote peace,”Kantengwa said. “They want to see a change for Africa and for the world.”
The Peace Building Institute runs from December 29, 2014 to January 11, 2015.