First of all, so far this trip has been exciting, intense, and emotional. I am grateful to be here. As a near graduate, it is refreshing to have an experience so closely relating to what I studied. I have been interested in restorative justice and mediation since my second year of college. The events of Tuesday really highlighted how this process can work, even in extreme cases. After a genocide leaving one million dead, it is hard to imagine what the proper steps would be to encourage and support the healing of a community. Yesterday we visited with a man from the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) and the creator of Prison Fellowship Rwanda. The meeting with the NUCR really exposed me to the role of the government in community healing. This compared to the small organization of the Prison Fellowship really emphasizes the benefit of grassroots organizations and the government working together. It amazes me the turn around that the country has made over the past 18 years. Both meetings really inspire me. In fact, I am seriously considering applying for an internship with Prison Fellowship Rwanda in the next year.
Hearing Pastor Deo from Prison Fellowship Rwanda speak was bone chilling and beautiful. This man lost a significant number (45) of family members to the genocide. To this day, he doesn't know their location or death details. Yet he finds the strength in his heart to speak with prisoners, perpetrators of the genocide which harmed his family and has caused him great pain. He doesn't only speak with them. He has forgiven offenders and has even befriended some which he now works with. His work also includes mediating meetings that bring victims and perpetrators together, collecting supplies for women with babies in prison, and caring for street children. As we were leaving, one of the street children he has cared for came out and spoke with us and told him how this man, Pastor Deo, is his father and has changed his life. It was proof of the great work Pastor Deo has done. The young man also showed us a rap, dance, song, and flips that Deo inspired him to learn. Pastor Deo has truly moved me. I hope I am able to contribute such needed love and dedication to the world one day.
Other highlights of the day include a delicious lunch at Afrika Bite and short trip to the market where I made many delightful purchases.
More later -