A Journey of Hope and Resilience

Resilience, compassion, hope, and healing are the aura and energy among the people of Rwanda; a country rising from the ashes of a brutal war 20 years ago, and choosing to heal, restore and build together in the spirit of Ubuntu.

The 2023 United Religions Initiative (URI) Global Council and staff face-to-face gathering was held this June in Kigali, Rwanda. It was a time to connect, collaborate, and build relationships within the URI network.

One of the key highlights of the gathering was the visit to the Rwanda Genocide Museum, which commemorates the 1994 Rwandan Genocide victims. The horrific experience of the victims of the genocide as narrated during the visit are an awakening call to prevent hate and interpersonal differences from ever happening in the world again.

“The visit to the Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda conveyed the powerful lesson of the devastating consequences of hate and division, the importance of education, and the power of resilience. It evoked deep feelings, from heartbreak to empathy, for both the victims and survivors. It inspired a commitment to foster understanding and unity by promoting peace, justice, and healing for a world free from such horrors.”
Lejla Hasandedic, Dapo Individual Membership Coordinator

The visit to the Genocide Museum united us to the people of Rwanda and beyond, to heal in wholeness irrespective of religious affiliations or geographical location; and to strengthen our commitment to work together to prevent religiously motivated violence and all kinds of violence in our communities, countries, and the world.

“If this happened to us, it could happen to any other human being.”
Bishop John Rucyahana from the National Reconciliation of Rwanda.

It also portrayed the resilience of the people of Rwanda to rebuild their nation after going through such a traumatic experience. They chose a journey of healing, reconciliation, and building together, a journey of no revenge.

“The resilience of the people of Rwanda gives us hope and endurance
to do what we do for peace to prevail on earth.” 
Mussie Hailu, URI Regional Director for Africa.

Bishop John Rucyahana from the National Reconciliation of Rwanda shared the history of the genocide and the journey to healing and development that the people of Rwanda embarked on together. Bishop John was directly involved in the reconciliation process in Rwanda after the genocide.

The genocide that happened in Rwanda and other countries shows how instability and bloodshed can stem from hate speech. The URI Global support office has initiated training to build the capacity of Cooperation Circles to stop the spread of violence in their communities, decrease hate speech which incites violence, and decrease violence against religious and marginalized groups, including women. It will also change attitudes, norms, and behaviours related to violence.

Today, over 440 URI Cooperation Circles are working towards peace building and conflict transformation, and addressing the dangers of hate speech.