Reconciliation requires issues to be addressed holistically : poverty, malnutrition, family relationships cannot be separated. The Cow for Peace project uniquely attends to these. The program begins with trauma healing and forgiveness workshops and ends by providing an impoverished offender and genocide survivor with the shared responsibility of caring for a cow. Former enemies are enabled to cooperate in trust and to rebuild relationship.
Fostering reconciliation through a creative 3-step approach :
1st step : Reconciliation workshops
CARSA works with local government and church leaders to identify people who would most benefit from a 7-day workshop that focuses on trauma healing and reconciliation. For many participants, this is the first time they have experienced true forgiveness, either for their offender or for themselves.
2nd step : reinstating community
Interdependence is essential in Rwanda’s rural areas. The genocide destroyed communities, broke trust and shattered relationships, leaving vulnerable people without a safety net. After the workshop, survivors and their offenders are put into groups to meet regularly and support each other through caring for each other’s needs. This rebuilds the foundation of community for participants and reestablishes trust.
3rd step : Ensuring Sustainability
Finally, the cow is given to the survivor-offender couple. It stays with the survivor’s family, but both share the responsibility of caring for it. This creates opportunities for the offender’s family to visit the survivor’s home regularly. Through the guidance of their cell group, the couple continues to rebuild their relationship as they care for the cow. The first calf that is born is given to the offender’s family.