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Rwanda Revisited—An Inspiring Transformation

 

Although people report positive outcomes using TFT, the report provided below does not constitute a warranty, guarantee, or prediction regarding the outcome of an individual using TFT for any particular purpose or issue.

 

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OCT 25, 2017

 

Rwanda has resiliently re-emerged from the pain and scars of the horrifying 1994 genocide to blossoming into the most rapidly growing nation in Africa, with energetic, dedicated, forgiving people moving steadily forward. Their remarkable journey to peace and reconciliation and graciously integrating as one unified nation is poignantly exemplified by their Community Day every last Saturday of the month, when all Rwandans in every community participate in a community improvement activity such as cleaning the streets and paths, or repairing or refurbishing an aging building.

 

From our last visit seven years ago, Cyndie and Gary Quinn and I marveled at the changes everywhere we looked—modernized airport, new paved roads, new buildings and more under construction, cell phones in every adult hand, businesses popping up in all directions, proliferation of lights with electricity turning night darkness bright, improvements in plumbing and water, renovations proliferating. So much growth in such a short time, it required rebooting to the upgraded picture of a modernized nation to find our way around familiar landmarks amid the progressive changes vividly evident in every direction.

 

We were warmly welcomed by Father Jean Marie Vianney Dushimiyimana who is now Director of CARITAS among the many duties he serves, Father Augustin Nzabonimana head priest at Kinahira parish and the chaplain of TFT and Diocesan Service (TFT Izere—Rwanda) along with other roles in the diocese and district, and psychologist Adrienne Nahayo who heads the TFT Clinics at Izere Center in the Ninyamiwana parish and Byumba Conference and Training Center which can house 32 guests in their dormitories. They shared the progress being made in sustainability projects, including helping the widows and vulnerable handicapped adults with developing their own farms and small businesses, and training in different trades that could lead to independent jobs or means of living. Father Augustin showed us the training bakery and tile-making cottage factory, where youth learn skills in the industries and knowledge in production, packaging, marketing and delivery of goods and services. TFT is growing and helping the progression of reconciliation and unity in Rwanda, according to Father Augustin Nzabonimana, who is in charge of the diocesan service of TFT and psychosocial work in the northern province.

 

We met for a refresher with therapists trained at the Izere Center and were inspired by their development of TFT Clubs in their schools and in their communities, such as the Single Mothers TFT Club, survivor groups, TFT for families, TFT for Youth. Having hard copies of protocols would be very helpful in the school and community TFT clubs and group training. The new therapists of the past several years do not have manuals since the costs of paper and printing are so high.

 

Pastor Celestin Mitabu updated us on the annual genocide memorials, from April through July when each day for 100 days a commemoration is held in a different community to revisit the learnings from the past, reinforce recovery and reconciliation and inspire growth as one unified nation. Teams of TFT practitioners attend each of these community memorials and work in tandem with the Red Cross, which brings those overcome with grief and emotions to the first of three rooms set up for treatment which has mattresses and blankets where those who are overcome can lie down. The Red Cross teams work with the medical issues, and the TFT team treats the trauma and grief with protocols they have found most helpful utilizing the soothing single voice of someone with whom the overcome person is familiar or receptive. After the grieving person is more present and calmer, the centering and grounding self-treatments are initiated and the person moves to the second treatment room where he/she is guided through the self-treatment TFT sequences for trauma, rage, guilt, grief as appropriate or indicated. When they are stable, they then move to a quiet room where they can sit and rest and hydrate until they are ready to leave. Pastor Celestin had a demonstration of this process as part of the training for TFT at Adventist University where 60 students were trained. We assisted him also as he trained 30 students at ULK University in Gisenji.

 

At the new training center in Byumba, Rwanda Correctional Service Division Manager of Medical Services Dr. Georges Ruterana, and nurses, doctors, psychologists, and social workers from 13 correctional facilities in Rwanda were greeted by Bishop Servilien Nzakamwita, Father Jean Marie Vianney Dushimiyimana (who envisioned and developed the Izere Center when he was head priest at Nyinawimana Parish), and trainers Father Augustin Nzabonimana and Adrienne Nahayo. The two day training stimulated insightful questions about applications with substance abuse, dual diagnoses, psychosis, dissociation, and complex PTSD issues such as with survivors who had been isolated and had no human contact since very early childhood and were presenting with extremely aggressive, combative behaviors.

 

After the two-day Algorithm Training with TFT, everyone went to apply what they learned at a workshop for 50 of the model inmates selected out of the 3000 at the nearest correctional center. The workshop was skillfully led with hopefulness and caring by Father Augustin and Adrienne, and the male inmates were attentive, respectful, cooperative, and receptive. Most took notes and all followed diligently. The responses of pleasant surprise were readily apparent in the expressions in their body postures and facial expressions. Then all the newly trained therapists and the inmates spread out in groups of twos or threes and stood as they learned to do the relevant TFT treatments for them. Little smiles widened to grins and laughter in most. Tension visibly relaxed into freer stances and clearer softer eyes and loosening muscles in shoulders, necks and arms. It brought smiles and tears to our eyes as we witnessed the transformation. When they did the closing gathering, we thanked them for this remarkable time together, and they thanked all the trainers with their enthusiastic rhythmic clapping and then broke into a joyous song that was so uplifting with beaming smiles and faces and exhilarating harmony that reverberated through the rafters up to the heavens, with some of us having tears of joy raining down our cheeks.

 

Dr. Ruterana indicated that the plan is to implement TFT in every prison, with model inmates trained first, and they will then share with groups of inmates throughout their facility. There will be weekly TFT reviews and additional learning. When inmates finish their sentences and go back into the community, which in Rwanda they do without discrimination, they will help those in their communities who do not yet know TFT. The Rwanda Correctional Service has been improving the health services in all of the facilities, and now they are working on improving the mental health services and will be having a psychologist in each of the facilities. TFT will be a major tool in the treatment of the traumas and psychological issues that can help to enhance their mental well-being. They will be in need of additional funding and follow-up advanced training and support to fully implement this mental health initiative across the country over the next few years. Rwanda already is a shining example to the world of the amazing grace of peace, harmony and reconciliation with working through and beyond past traumas, hurt and rage to bring a country from devastation and poverty to exuberance and prosperity. This innovative healing and mental health initiative in the Rwanda Correctional Service may well prove to be a role model not only for Rwanda, but beyond to other nations world-wide.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Caroline E. Sakai, PhD / Clinical Psychologist / TFT Practitioner and Trainer

 

P.S. Much appreciation to the Nalaniikaleomana Foundation in Hawaii and all those who contributed to making this September revisitation to Rwanda possible.