Community Based Sociotherapy

Different approaches have been used to restore hope, heal the wounds of the past and build social cohesion. “Community based socio-therapy” is one of the approaches introduced by Prison Fellowship Rwanda. The approach helps people in a group format, whereby group members are given an opportunity to help their companions to overcome problems, as well as solve their own.  The program has been remarkably successful in dealing with the consequences of genocide.

This socio-therapy approach is a practical example of a restorative process with the aim of building a healed and reconciled Rwandan society. The created groups are becoming restorative circles, and are growing in the ability to heal. A total of 35,425 people have been impacted by Community Based Socio-therapy Programme. The main goal is to contribute to transitional justice in post-Gacaca Rwanda through psychosocial interventions at community level aimed at healing, reconciliation and social cohesion. The group is used as a therapeutic medium to establish trust and confidence in one another, and open environments for discussion and peer-support structures. The approach has helped bring many people to recognize their mistakes and ask for forgiveness during the time of Gacaca courts in Rwanda and to build up reconciliation and unity in the community.

Healing and social (re-)connection took place and also issues that were not resolved by gacaca courts were addressed successfully. Testimonies from parties indicated that trauma healing and behavior change have started among inmates who attended sessions and some revealed the truth on their crimes. Others wrote confession letters addressed to their victims in the community and meetings between victims and perpetrators were organized. Inmates in the socio-group shared their wounds, expressed their remorse of the crimes they committed, circumstances and reasons of their incarceration. Most of prisoners who attended socio-therapy sessions, said that socio-therapy created an enabling space for them to go into themselves, sharing their stories, overcome isolation and started the healing journey for enlightening of their hearts and thoughts. During sociotherapy sessions, some inmates said that they were able to overcome negative thoughts, hopelessness and even suicide thoughts.

District

Graduated Participants  by December 2015

Graduated participants by December 2016

Rulindo

1463

3042

Gicumbi

1727

2886

Gatsibo

1406

2708

Bugesera

1423

2986

Rubavu

2218

3789

Karongi

969

1827

Muhanga

2496

4236

Nyamagabe

756

1536

 Total

12.415

23.010