The workshop involves the participants sharing some characteristics they appreciate in each other, switching seamlessly between French and the local language Sangho.
It ends with discussions on how they could uproot mistrust in their communities. On an easel, the participants wrote that they planned to provide ‘sincere apologies,’ ‘love,’ ‘trust,’ and ‘dialogue’ in order to ‘search for common ground’.
These efforts are part of the CAR Interfaith Peacebuilding Partnership, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
In partnership with the Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and Islamic Relief aid agencies and Palo Alto University, the five-year project aims to promote reconciliation by supporting local religious leaders, improving opportunities to make a living and providing psychosocial trauma healing.
“Religious actors are the bedrock of society in countries where institutions are fragile,” said Andreas Hipple of GHR Foundation, which co-funded the project.
“The religious leaders can not just guide people in their faith but also help them deal with the challenges of life.”
The workshop is just the start, Ntakarutimana said.
“They will continue to have those scars but it’s not really bleeding like a fresh wound,” she added.
After meeting and partnering with Christian victims of the conflict, Siba said she had renewed hope in the future.
“Even though the situation we have now is difficult, with God’s mercy, we can rebuild our country and reconcile with each other.”
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