The Association of Baptist Churches of Rwanda (AEBR) aims to play a role the process of reconciliation and building sustainable peace in Rwanda. AEBR has developed and implemented projects aimed at healing trauma, restoring hope, and improving the socio-economic status of Rwandans, both inside and outside the Church communities.
The AEBR’s peacebuilding project envisions a reconciled Rwandan society, where people live in peace. To move towards its mission, the project pursues the overall objective of building a strong understanding of the peace building concept and its different dimensions within Church, school and other communities, equipping them with skilled active peace workers.
The peacebuilding programme has focused on conducting peacebuilding training and workshops for teachers, students, pastors and lay persons. It has also contributed to the socio-economic development of its beneficiaries through initiating income generating activities to support local peacebuilding initiatives.
To reach communities and disseminate the messages of peace, the programme has used sport and arts competitions approaches. It has especially attracted young people from the Church and outside the Church.
The following are some of the achievements of the peacebuilding programme:
- Creating an increased understanding on the concept of peace, its multifaceted dimensions and the necessity of building sustainable peace within communities.
- Increasing the spirit of solidarity, compassion, empathy and support. In schools, students have helped their schoolmates from poor families to find school fees using their pocket money. This is an initiation to helping needy people that develops compassionate mindsets and prepares young people to build a world that works for everyone. Students also have these in surrounding communities.
- In Nyagahinika Secondary School, the students, members of the Heroes of Peace (Imena z’amahoro) Club have repaired a house owned by a 102 years old woman. Her house was destroyed by floods which also destroyed many others in Northern and Western Rwanda.
- Increased commitment to peace work and enhanced skills for peacemaking in communities. In some schools Conflict Resolution Committees have been established and are contributing to building positive and responsible self and peer discipline among students. Peer mediation has been encouraged and practised in schools.
- Spread the message of peace not only in the beneficiaries’ communities but also elsewhere. Schools have established peace clubs in their neighbouring schools (eg GS Nyagahinika has created a club at GS Nyabirasi and CYIMBILI; Gitwe helped the establishment of a peace club in GS GITUKU). Church members have reached out to their communities and organised peace education activities. This has contributed to the process of reconciliation and social cohesion.
- Commemorating the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. The peace makers have participated in commemoration and trauma healing for those who survived the genocide.
- Outreach activities in surrounding communities. The new peace clubs at the Nyabirasi and Cyimbili schools have launched compassion initiatives, such as helping students who do not have school fees and school materials, and agricultural programmes including goat farming activities.
- They also spread messages of peace through the arts, including songs, poems and theatres. The clubs organise art competitions to exhibit their work and disseminate their understanding on building peace in their communities. The art competitions help club members to share with the school community about the concept of peace, their vision and dreams for a peaceful Rwanda and practical ways to move toward sustainable peace.