Rwandan Initiative Aims to Heal Wounds of Genocide

Woman Religious Launches a Peace Project

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KIGALI, Rwanda, DEC. 7, 2005 ( A Rwandan-born religious has launched a project to heal the scars of the 1994 genocide and to promote the culture of peace in her country.

The Rwandan tragedy broke out April 7, 1994, pitting Hutus against Tutsis. In just three months, 800,000 people were killed and 3 million Rwandans fled the country.

The aim of the new project, called Apax, is to respond to people’s desire for reconciliation and peace. The program includes problem-solving initiatives to foster nonviolence.

The Vatican missionary agency Fides reported that Apax is subdivided in several micro-projects that range from the practice of evangelical nonviolence to the building of a candle factory.

Apax’s founder is Sister Donata Uwimanimpaye, headmistress of a Catholic school in Muramba.

The woman religious holds a licentiate from the University of Fribourg and was in Switzerland at the time of the genocide. She is focusing particularly on the resolution of conflicts, the topic on which she wrote her thesis, entitled «Preparation for the Mediation of Conflicts.»

Into practice

The religious now intends to put her studies into practice to help solve social problems and tensions with methods learned in Switzerland and, since 1999, in the United States.

Apax has branches in various parts of Rwanda opened by young teachers.

Christian education in the value of peace is in keeping with the objectives of Rwanda’s National Commission for Unity and Reconciliation, noted Fides.

The Apax Association for education in values of peace was established to support the project in Rwanda.

Founded in Switzerland in 2001 by a group of Sister Donata’s friends, the association fosters actions of mediation in the African country and collects funds in various ways, including the initiative «African Dishes» at the Africanum Institute in Fribourg.

About half of Rwanda’s 8.5 million inhabitants are Catholic.

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