Didacienne Mukahabeshimana Finds Compassion

Didacienne Mukahabeshimana's journey from fear to love had led to founding a women's group, which visits prisoners accused of taking part in the Rwandan genocide...

Mukahabeshimana, a nurse and trade unionist from Rwanda, says the desire for vengeance possessed her after she lost relations, neighbours and friends in the killings of 1994.

 "I thought that to gain inner peace, I had to resort to vengeance. During this period my life had no meaning and I asked myself why I had not died with everyone else. I became more and more ill and desperate."

A turning point came when she had the courage to revisit her life and look towards the future. "An inner voice told me: 'Your life is not over. No one can change the past, but everyone can prepare their future: recognize your wounds, accept your anger, then bit by bit, begin to change your behaviour towards those you call your enemies."

In 1998, she went to witness the public execution of some of those involved in the genocide. As the prisoners arrived and were prepared for execution, the crowd in the stadium was overcome by fear.

"I began to shake and sweat. When the first shot was fired, we wanted to escape, but the police would not let us. What we had seen as a punishment had become a new crime. As I shook, I asked God's forgiveness for my feelings of hate and revenge and asked him to rest their souls in peace."

Thanks to the visits of her group,many prisoners repented and turned to God.

"They have admitted their crimes and await their sentences in peace," she said.

From an article in For A Change, an interactive magazine published by Initiatives of Change.

Related links:

Global Activism: Preventing Conflict in Rwanda through Literacy  
A Chicago public Radio with founder of Rwanda-based Umuhuza, a group that works with families to address the root causes of conflict, and Tina Spencer, a Chicagoan and co-founder of The International Family Literacy Initiative.

Rwanda genocide leader sentenced to life in prison

Creators of Peace

Creators of Peace (CoP) is an international women’s initiative started in 1991. It challenges women everywhere to:

  • Share responsibility for their part in the perpetration of conflict and in its resolution
  • Engage in the creation of peace at every level of society
  • Break the chains of hate and revenge
  • Build networks of forgiveness and friendship across racial, religious and social divides.
Plans for National Reconciliation Day in Malaysia

Based on the notion that ‘Change, Peace Starts with Me’, a conference on ‘Tools for Change’ has mooted that May 13, be turned into a day of forgiveness and reconciliation among Malaysians.

MCPXA group of conference participants has taken up the idea and is now working towards a Malaysian ‘National Reconciliation Day’ to be held on May 13.