Rwanda: Bearing Witness

Circles of Hope: The Continuous Work of Healing Genocidal Trauma in Rwanda​

Thérèse Uwitonze, a Rwandan clinical psychologist and trauma specialist, and Roshi Barbara Wegmüller, a founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order in Europe from Spiegel, Switzerland, met during the Zen Peacemakers Rwanda Bearing Witness Retreat in 2014. Below is Barbara’s account of their meeting and friendship, followed by the report developed by Thérèse and her colleague Nsengiyumva Joseph, detailing the incredible work Thérèse and Nsengiyumva were able to do in the Ruhashya, Rwaniro, and Kinazi sectors of the Huye District in Rwanda with the support of the Zen Peacemakers from Switzerland.

Right after our arrival and after settling into our hotel room, Roshi Genro introduced us to Thérèse Uwitonze. My husband, Roland, is the participants doctor at the Bearing Witness Retreats in Auschwitz, and was inhabiting this position in Rwanda.

Thérèse, we were told, is a psychotherapist specializing in treatments of trauma. She was accompanied by a friend, a women psychologist. The four of us gathered around a small table on the shady veranda. It was Friday afternoon, three days before the start of the Retreat.

 

2014 Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Retreat

Music by Morley, Photos by Aleksandra Kwiatkowska