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Coaches Across Continents: Peace is a process


Coaches Across Continents: Peace is a process

The Football for Hope, Peace, and Unity and CAC’s “Play For Hope: Rwanda20” partnership has dedicated its mission to working for lasting peace in a country that has had numerous conflicts.

Before our week in Rwamagana, the CAC team was able to visit the Gisozi Genocide Memorial. To give you an idea of the scope and impact that the genocide had on Rwanda, a National Trauma Survey by UNICEF estimated that 80% of Rwandan children experienced a death in the family in 1994, with 70% of children witnessing someone being killed or injured. This was an event that completely transformed the nation.

How do you move on from such a catastrophic event? And how is FHPU, through their soccer initiative PFH: Rwanda20, continuing to help this process? In the aftermath of the genocide, Rwanda implemented what was known as the Gacaca. It is a community-lead, grass-roots peace process. This allowed for victims and perpetrators to come forward and tell their stories. Punishments were then levied towards the genocidaires, but typically a 50% reduced sentenced that allowed them to work outside of a prison cell with their manual labour benefiting the community.


Even today, 21 years later, peace remains a process. On Thursday we concluded our training with the coaches and teachers of Rwamagana by playing a game from our Peace Day curriculum called “Understanding Stereotypes and Challenging Them.” It can also be easily used to discuss discrimination and segregation, both of which were factors in the build-up of the genocide. At the conclusion of the game we were hoping to openly discuss the historical issues between the Hutus and Tutsis, but we were told that it would be better to wait one day. Even today people struggle to speak openly about a difficult topic – they need time to put their thoughts together. The following morning during coach-backs, one group chose to replay this game. At the conclusion, a 30-minute group discussion was held in a seated circle on the grass. To someone who was just learning about the intricacies of Rwandan history, it felt very much like an extension of a Gacaca, where the community was able to come together to speak on difficult subjects.

The conclusion we heard from one coach after the discussion about the game is that when you segregate or discriminate, you are putting one group above another, and conflict is bound to follow. Dr. Holly Collison, who is studying and researching in the field of sport for peace and development for Loughborough University, also joined the discussion. Her short participatory activity in the middle of the discussion showed that through communication you can learn about others and that communication is key. The more you communicate, the more you understand about each other and how similar we all are; and this is what the coaches and their fellow Rwandans are still doing today.
[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Nicholas Gates


Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - 23:00