Key factors that facilitate intergroup dialogue and psychosocial healing in Rwanda: a qualitative study

Psychosocial interventions in many post conflict settings, including Rwanda, have failed to facilitate dialogue between members of conflicting groups while aiming to rebuild the broken social fabric that individuals and communities depend on for sustainable peace and development. Locally initiated programmes that do engage conflicting parties in dialogue are often overlooked, and therefore unable to inform interventions. To begin to fill this gap, this article presents a qualitative study of key factors that facilitated intergroup dialogue and mutual healing between Hutus and Tutsis through the Healing of Life Wounds, a community based mental health programme initiated in Rwanda. Data were collected from 23 participants who attended the programme as part of this investigation and includes pre and post intervention interviews, as well as notes from participant and researcher's observations. Findings indicate that openness to change, a safe space for sharing, an understanding facilitator and supportive material resources were all factors that encouraged participants to share their personal stories and engage in acts of mutual support. Participants began to integrate positive patterns of relationships within the group, and in their communities. The implications for post conflict rebuilding are also discussed.

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King, RĂ©gine Uwibereyeho