[June 28-29, 2013, Kibuye to Kigali, Rwanda]
Since my little fire mishap in the middle of the night, this conference has gone ever so smoothly. Our only difficulty has been figuring out what to cut since our talks now take twice the time due to translation time. The cuts have been to case studies in order to protect the cherished small group times. I opened our morning session with a devotional on “the cup of sweet water” and our need to address the bitter water that flows out of us. In a conference like this where we talk about domestic violence and sexual abuse, it is easy to think about evil “out there” in its most grotesque images. However, we all have the roots of this evil even if it only show up as pride and arrogance. I ended our devotional reminding us of the grace and hope given us in 1 John 1:9.
Our morning session consisted of Dr. Beverly Ingelse giving a talk about caring and counseling children who have suffered abuse. After a break and a group picture, we returned to our small groups to respond to some of Bev’s questions and to discuss cases. In my group we went fairly off topic to hear how two of our group members survived the genocide and how they are now dealing with children who did not go through the genocide but have symptoms of traumatic reactions (depression over lost Aunts and Uncles, dissociation during memorial periods, chronic fear). Just in these two stories, they counted 115 murdered extended family members! It boggles the mind of those of us who have only read about such experiences.
Just before lunch I gave a brief talk about how to facilitate storytelling in ways that does not further traumatize the teller. We looked at common behaviors of counselors that support recovery and common behaviors that may hinder recovery. Look for those in an upcoming post!
We concluded our conference a few hours earlier than expected so that attendees could return home to manage household duties prior to Saturday’s Umuganda, or monthly required civil service. We concluded with a short “What’s next?” session led by Baraka. A couple of key ideas were proposed and repeated:
- One day set aside for hearing and responding to case studies
- Seminars about integrity for pastors and lawyers (apparently, some very public abuse cases (by pastors) have rocked the counseling community in recent months
- Network building: the attendees discussed formal or informal counselor network (to promote learning, peer supervision, and support. They requested technical assistance from AACC.
After our last lunch overlooking beautiful Lake Kivu, we boarded a bus and returned to Kigali. I sat next to Worship and her mother (a most precious toddler who batted her eyes at me and played peekaboo with me for 3 hours). Arriving in Kigali at dusk, we ended our day with a meal and good conversations.
Day Seven (the last)
The day started quiet and lazy with a savoring of my favorite breakfast: tropical fruit salad, coffee, and a croissant. It is good that it started this way because last night, neighbors of the retreat house decided that midnight to 5 am would be a good time to remove a sheet metal roof. The workers worked diligently and loudly, singing and laughing right outside my window. Around 5 I fell asleep for about 2 hours. These would be the only 2 hours for the next 40 or so.
As this was our last day in Rwanda, some wanted to get a bit of shopping done. I wanted to be sure to get some Rwanda tea and coffee. We hung around until about noon, when the required civil service was completed. Then, we struck out for good places to buy a few items. Though this is my third trip to Rwanda, it is my first to a shopping district. Some of our team looked for dresses, others for artistic work. I bought a few things but mostly enjoyed the people watching (and being people watched). Back at our Solace Ministries, we got our bags ready and watched a Rwandan wedding get underway. We were told after 3 hours that the bride had yet to make an appearance and that this is quite common–a good reminder of the differences in time culture!
By 9 pm we were boarding our plane to return home. I found it interesting that much of this flight (including the stop in Uganda) is filled with young (mostly female) adults looking to be college age. Some we spoke with had just spent 6 weeks with a professor and seeing various NGOs at work.
This has been a short but fulfilling trip. I look forward to returning in 1 year with our first round of Global Trauma Recovery students.
- Tuza 2.0: Day One (wisecounsel.wordpress.com)
- Tuza 2.0: Day Two (wisecounsel.wordpress.com)
- Tuza 2.0: Day Three (wisecounsel.wordpress.com)
- Tuza 2.0: Day Four (wisecounsel.wordpress.com)
- Tuza 2.0: Day Five (wisecounsel.wordpress.com)
- Trauma Recovery and Counseling Training in Rwanda (wisecounsel.wordpress.com)