July 11, 2014.
We ended the Community of Practice at noon and said our goodbyes. The morning consisted of a short devotional comparing the good and the false shepherd described in John 10. We explored how helpers may end up becoming “hirelings” due to burn-out and
Community of Practice
loss of vision. After the devotional, our tables each became case consultations with caregivers discussing their hard cases and receiving encouragement, support, prayer, and a bit of advice. In a number of instances, caregivers brought up the issue of those who have mixed parentage (Hutu/Tutsi) and the struggle to deal with their identity. I and others have noted that this group has been far more vocal talking about the different “tribes” where previous groups have rarely even mentioned these groupings. It makes me wonder whether this is unique to this group or whether there is something going on in the country that makes it okay to discuss identity.
After our goodbyes, we traveled south for 2 hours to the university town of Butare. Butare is the home of the National University. First stop in Butare consisted of an ice cream at Sweet Dreams just down the road from the Shalom Guest house where we are staying (known internationally as the project with the female drumming corp). Our purpose here is to meet with Anglican Bishop Nathan Gasatura and some of the pastors/leaders of his diocese to discuss the trauma recovery needs. Bishop Nathan has been a friend and attended some of our previous training. Diane spoke a bit about “talking, tears, and time” and the process of healing through trauma. We had a good dialogue where one question was raised, how can a Hutu counselor help a Tutsi victim (or vice versa)? I was thankful that Baraka Paulette, the new president of the new Rwandan Association of Christian Counselors, was present as she answered in a very beautiful way, putting all at ease. Though our time was short, we squeezed in a bit of singing and dancing in the cathedral.
Before our meeting, a few of us purchased locally roasted inexpensive Rwandan coffee and an espresso at Café Connexion across the street from the cathedral and guesthouse. This cafe was not something most would venture into in the United States. It contained dingy walls, a couch and a couple of stuffed chairs, a shelf full of brown bags of coffee, a large coffee roaster and the center of the room was a small desk with an espresso machine. Yet, this was possibly the best coffee I tasted on the trip. [the return trip the next morning and bag of coffee brought home and now gone supports this opinion!] After dinner, many of us walked down the dimly lit main street in the dark passing the university. It was good to walk and good to deepen relationships with fellow GTRI mates.
July 9, 2014
Wednesday morning. We had our last lovely breakfast at Solace guest house, packed our things and left to travel a little over an hour south to Centre Saint Andre, a retreat and conference facility. We arrived in time to get our rooms to put our things away and get to the start of the conference. This Community of Practice conference, run by the Bible Society of Rwanda, is their first ever such meeting of trauma healing facilitators and is designed to raise the level of skills and knowledge of the facilitators as well as share best practices among them. Our role at the conference is threefold: lead some of the teaching sessions, listen and respond to case consultations and, best of all, get to know the facilitators and share experiences. The room was set with tables for 6 with 4 Rwandans and 2 Americans each.
The conference began with a bible study by the secretariat of the Bible Society. He spoke of the necessity of having the right names for things. He noted the significant difference in naming Rwanda a country healing from genocide instead of Rwanda a genocide country. Each table then discussed successes and challenges. At my table we heard of many good stories of healing (Success) but also that the
Credit: Heather Evans
facilitators feel much guilt for not helping more (Challenge). They struggle with feeling worn out and impoverished helping others. Some noted how their own families and marriages were suffering given that they found it hard to say no to tangible needs of those they were trying to help. They noted that many of the recipients did want to have tangible gifts in order to take time to be in a healing group.
Next, Diane Langberg presented on the topic of shame. She defined guilt as a response to what we do but shame as a response to what we perceive we are or have become. She noted there are different types of shame but all result in a loss of “glory.” Some religious traditions believe that blood (honor killings) is the only way to cleanse the family of shame. She pointed out that while this is gravely distorted view of shame/honor, blood IS the only cleansing of shame–Jesus’ death and resurrection. She explored how Jesus did not run from the shame, that the image of God is one who runs after the shamed, who clothes them, who brings them his honor.
In response, the table groups considered three questions: What is considered shameful in Rwanda? What does the church say is shameful? Which of these are false sources of shame per the Scriptures? Consider some of the items mentioned,
- To be pregnant without a husband, yet a man is proud
- To divorce or separate
- To be impotent or barren
- To be a victim of rape
- To be drunk (if woman); only shameful for a man if he does something wrong when drunk
- To engage in open conflict; to talk openly of problems
- To be in need/impoverished
- For a woman to talk about domestic violence; to be a man beaten by his wife
- to have disobedient children
- To be albino
- To commit adultery (church endorsed shame); to be HIV+
Interestingly, it was not always agreed upon which items should not be considered shameful.
We ended our training day with a teaching/group interaction I did regarding addictions (the nature of addictions, what the Scriptures say, and how these facilitators can help improve commitment to sobriety in those they seek to help). I think most Americans and Rwandans felt the beginnings of connections forming as personal stories were told to us and we received them for what they were, treasures.
In light of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, I’ve written a short post about the roots of genocide. You can find it here at the faculty blog site at biblical.edu. I interact with some material by Ervin Staub in order to go beyond either the superficial response–that it just sin and evil that causes genocide–and to go beyond the naive response that it is something we could never do.
At the beginning of 2013, Biblical Seminary launched Global Trauma Recovery Institute to train recovery specialists here and around the world. We’re small but thus far we have taken 20 students through 120 hours of continuing education, another 15 have just begun, and we are now preparing some of those first students to travel to Rwanda to observe and participate in trauma recovery training with local caregivers. Those students we serve are from or located in three continents plus the United States. In addition, we have represented GTRI in trainings in South Africa and Rwanda this year as well as engaged Christian counselors in Romania during one of their trainings. Our hope for 2014 includes more of this kind of training as well as our first immersion trip with students. Think we are just focused on the international scene? No! The “abuse in the church” video on the right hand bar of this site was sponsored by GTRI as well.
Maybe you wonder what we do and how we handle cross cultural challenges. Check out this short 3 minute video below to see our (myself and Diane Langberg) heart for raising up capable recovery specialists here and around the world as they follow Jesus into the world.
Want to support? After viewing the video, please consider supporting us with prayer and even tax-deductible donations. If you do choose to donate, this link will bring you to a donation page. You can give to the seminary’s general fund (without their support, GTRI would NOT exist!) or you can give a specific gift to GTRI. Just note that in the comments section. Your gifts will enable us to serve more international students and to begin the formation of learning cohorts on other continents!
[Note: Link on image is broken, click here to see the video]
[June 24, 2103]: Kigali to Butare to Kigali
Day starts with a breakfast of croissant, hardboiled egg, dragon fruit, and coffee. Our team left Solace Ministries this morning to have devotions with World Vision Rwanda staff. Met with senior staff and Director George Gitau. He gave a history of WV in Rwanda since 1994. They work in 15 of the 30 sectors in the country. They are working to stop most handouts (e.g., school fees programs) and wean off dependency of international donor dollars as much as possible…and replace with economic development plans. They are helping Rwandans form saving and lending formations. Seemed to be saying that focus on genocide and trauma was passing to work on peace building and prevention curriculum with younger children. Using Christian musicians to bridge the cultural divide in the country. While prevention strategies are a great move, just because 19 years have passed doesn’t mean the trauma of the genocide and aftermath are finished. Transformation of traumatized populations are still needed.
From World Vision we left to visit the One Stop Center, a government institution for women experiencing domestic violence, a place to get medical help and seek justice. We were not allowed in for some reason. At this point, our teams split up. The larger group visited the genocide memorial, had lunch and did a bit of shopping. My group, Diane Langberg, Laura Captari (AACC) and Marianne Millen (student from Biblical) took a 2 hour trip to Butare (AKA Huye) to visit with Bishop Nathan Gasatura of the Anglican church. As board member of the Prostestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS), he brought us to the school and led a meeting with the vice rector and key faculty/staff. PIASS started in 1973 as an institute in theology. They added 2 faculties (what we would call schools) in 2010 and expect to had another by 2017 when they reach university status. In 2 years the school has grown from 300 or so to over 1000. Most classes are held on evenings and most students commute. We discussed possible ways we could support counseling training for pastors and school counselors who want to tackle issues of domestic violence, abuse, addictions, and trauma recovery. Seemed the most logical and realistic way to help is to develop some 1-2 night public seminars and a few short courses (100 hours across 2 weeks) for credit. Those with good skills in training pastors, cross cultural competency, and the specific content specialists would be welcome here.
On a tight schedule we “flew” back to Kigali with our driver Jean Pierre. Anyone looking for a careful driver in Kigali should hire him! By a miracle we narrowly missed hitting a young man who was crossing the road without looking. None of us in the car understand how we did not hit him (traveling at 30 miles an hour). Later, we stopped for our driver to make a call and were mobbed by school children on the way home wanting to try out their English with us.
We arrived back at Solace to go immediately into an impromptu meeting with 20 Bible Society volunteers and workers. The other team members had been listening to how the BS was using Healing Wounds of Trauma material in Kigali and other sectors of the country. We listened to some of their trauma cases: cases of forced rape, genocide victims, and forced abortions after rape. Many reported that HWT is the best material they have had access to over the past 19 year. There was one who felt the same but wished to not start with the chapter about why we suffer as there is some in the country who are inclined to quiet people with such material. I did a short presentation about how to ground individuals who are actively distressed and dissociation. We concluded the evening with a late dinner with the BS volunteers. Another home run by Simeon at Solace!
Those following this blog for a bit will know that I have travelled to Rwanda to participate in training Rwandan caregivers from 19 caregiving organizations (with World Vision Rwanda as the main host and partner). This project has been named “Project Tuza” and is funded by both World Vision Rwanda and donors to the American Association of Christian Counselors nonprofit foundation.
This June (21-30), a group of 8 counselors and psychologists will be working with local counselors and caregivers to improve counseling and caregiving skills to women and children experiencing domestic violence, with those suffering addictions, and to provide opportunity for extensive case rich learning. While some trainings will be delivered via presentations, we have been requested to spend much of our time in small skills groups so that attendees can learn through practice and case review sessions. As this time will also be nearing the end of the Genocide memorial period (April – July), we will also leave ample time to give attendees time for processing their own trauma burdens. Beyond this training, we are now shaping up meetings with other interested parties so we can expand our opportunities on future trips.
How can I participate?
- You can pray. These trips are difficult to manage from beginning to end. Getting the logistics right can be difficult when managing time-zones and cultures.
- You can pray some more. Health, prepping for talks, making sure that we bring the resources we need (AACC is gifting the Rwandan counselors with a large cache of DVD and CD trainings). Next week, we will be meeting here in the States with one of the Rwandan counselors to finalize our training.
- You can give. This trip is already funded by World Vision Rwanda and AACC. However we desire to keep returning to continue the training. You can help offset the costs of this trip and enable us to return soon. Since our last trip, airline tickets have increased more than $500 per person! Each one of us who are going give by covering a portion of the costs of travel to and from Rwanda. You can help us as well. Please consider giving to AACC Foundation by mailing checks (made payable to AACC FOUNDATION) to AACC Foundation, Attention: Project Tuza, PO Box 739, Forest, VA 24551 (in memo line, indicate the gift is for Project Tuza) or by giving online here in increments of $5. All gifts will be tax deductible.
Stay posted for more information and blogs about our trip!
Been thinking about the topic of genocide lately due to a possible symposium talk in near future. If you are like me it is hard to wrap your mind around such a horrific human/group behavior. Just how does one get to the point of being willing to massacre 10 people much less 1,000? How does one become “okay” with mass killing?
I think most would like to believe it is something different from normal human behavior–something in a different category from the rest of humanity. Maybe it comforts us to think of it as a massive work of Satan (it likely is) or a secret political conspiracy that the general population knows nothing of til afterwards.
I suspect, however, that genocidal behavior develops out of some rather basic, even mundane, human tendencies. Here’s the recipe for mass murder, abuse of power, and even use of porn in the privacy of one’s bedroom while acting righteous in public. Duplicity, abuse of power, or any willful sin starts with,
- The seed of a perceived problem or threat/loss, and then
- Sprouts in the soil of self-focus and deafness or complacency to the needs of others, and then
- Bears fruit in warm glow of deception of self and other fertilized by propaganda
Here’s my question to you. What else might I be missing in this “recipe”?
For those interested in pictures (from the Rwanda Embassy in DC) and formal information about what the AACC, Dr. Diane Langberg, and others including myself are planning on doing in Rwanda, click the following: MOU AACC alert.
Spending today at the Rwandan Embassy in DC. Discussing best ways to memorialize without further traumatizing the population. Yesterday we spent a good portion of the day at the National Holocaust Museum. Believe it or not, it was a wonderful experience. I intend to blog about it in the coming days. But for now, back to our meetings.
This coming week I have the pleasure of meeting up with several folks interested in the next step in our Rwanda efforts. We will be meeting with Rwandan church and gov’t officials to discuss possible training efforts before next Memorial period. Along with meetings in the DC area, we will tour, together, the Holocaust museum. I understand this will include a behind the scenes interaction with curators, holocaust survivors and others. Cool!
Hopefully, we will come out of these meetings with a clear plan for our next, yet-to-be scheduled trip. I don’t know if I’m alone in this experience, but meetings seems to drag on when I would rather start doing something. I know, at one level, how important listening is. But brainstorming and planning are way more fun! I hope we’ll get to that!