“Inyenyeri – the Star” Lighting the Way to a United Future
During the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, up to a million people were killed, leaving the people of the country traumatized and its infrastructure decimated. Since then, Rwanda has embarked on a reconciliation process with the ultimate goal of reconciling all citizens so they can live side by side in peace and harmony. The Inenyeri Association, founded by Boniface Mudenge has been exemplary in its efforts of promoting unity and reconciliation.
Some noteworthy achievements of the organization are:
- For its significant contribution to the fight against genocide and divisionism ideologies, H. E. President Paul Kagame conferred the association with the Unity Award in 2015.
- The Inyenyeri Association has assisted 1959 Rwandan to repatriate and engaged with them in resolving land related disputes in Rwanda. It has sensitized and supported alleged perpetrators living in the Democratic Republic of Congo to come back to Rwanda and helped the families of deceased perpetrators.
- The association has provided assistance for the needy in the community, regardless of their ethnicity or their role in the genocide. It has also provided livestock to community members identified as rescuers during the genocide, as a sign of collective recognition and gratitude.
The Inyenyeri Association works in rehabilitating both the victims and perpetrators of the genocide. The Association has specifically y worked in the area of bringing back Rwandan from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to where they fled during the genocide. The organization has 82 members and serves the communities located in Rubavu and Nyabihu Districts. Recognizing its significant contribution to the fight against genocide and divisionism ideologies, H.E. President Paul Kagame conferred the association with the Unity Award in 2015.
UNDP provides support to the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) which was created in March 1999 to promote unity and reconciliation among Rwandans in the aftermath of the devastating 1994 genocide against Tutsi. UNDP provides training and other technical support to the NURC in areas such as conducting community dialogues, building capacities of Reconciliation Forums and Unity and Reconciliation Clubs, as well generating data on unity and reconciliation through the Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer. This support is then passed on to organizations such as the Inyenyeri Association in Rubavu, who are then able to facilitate reconciliation by raising awareness among genocide survivors and perpetrators and engaging with them in the process of reconciliation.
Inyenyeri Association has helped 1959 people return and reintegrate into the community after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. This includes victims, perpetrators and their families. The Association has sensitized and supported alleged perpetrators living in Congo to come back to their country. By acknowledging their roles in the genocide, the Association has encouraged perpetrators to ask for pardon and victims to forgive them and build a united community. The Association has also helped people in resolving land related disputes upon their return, and aided them in getting shelter. Largely, it has been responsible for uniting people of the community, despite their roles in the genocide.
One eighty year old man who is also one of the founding members of the association, gave a testimony that he has helped a woman whose husband had looted his home and killed 70 cattle. Not only did he forgive this woman, but the Association helped her by giving her a house to live in. The woman expressed her gratitude to the individual and the Association for their help, despite her husband’s actions during the genocide. This showcases the true spirit of reconciliation, which has been crucial in the development of the Rwandan society and bringing the Rwandan people together as one.
Inyenyeri Association has helped many community members find employment, accommodation and involved them in income generating activities with the Association. The association operates a dairy farm, as well as potato plantations, which generate income for the Association, its members and the community. “Our diary can produce up to 3,000 liters of milk per day, but the dairy has the capacity to produce up to 5,000 liters of milk per day”, said Boniface Mudenge, the president and founder of the Association.
UNDP and the NURC will continue to support the work of organizations such as the Inyenyeri Association in promoting unity and reconciliation in Rwanda and in creating a united and peaceful society.