|Journey to Rwanda - Page 9|
It's now eight months since I was in Rwanda, and we're actively raising funds for continuation of the prison project. I'll carry the lessons I learned there for the rest of my life. Working at the most fundamental level of biological programming strips things down to the basic responses to trauma—the place we all share simply because we're human.
Having come face-to-face with what many would consider the very heart of darkness, I've had plenty of opportunity to reflect on the concept of good and evil. I'll never forget the experience of looking into the eyes of the genocidaires I interviewed and seeing, not evil, but bewilderment, anguish, and even gentleness.
As I write this, I imagine people reading this thinking: "What a typical do-gooder Westerner! If these genocidaires are so gentle, how did they slaughter hundreds of people?" But the reality in Rwanda is that one day these prisoners will go back to their villages. What chance do they have for reintegration without programs that help heal their trauma, so that they can accept responsibility for the horror they perpetrated and find a way to reenter the human community?
When I try to make sense of what took place in Rwanda, I'm reminded of something Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch wrote:
The simplified accounts of genocide allow distance between us and the perpetrators of genocide. They are so evil we couldn't ever see ourselves doing the same thing. But if you consider the terrible pressure under which people were operating, you are forced to look at the situation and say, "What would I have done?" Sometimes the answer is not encouraging.
Laurie Leitch, Ph.D., is cofound and codirector of development and evaluation for theResource Institute, which offers training in the brief stabilization model Trauma Trauma Resiliency Model First Aide. She's the director of research for The Foundation for Human Enrichment. Contact: email@example.com. Letters to the Editor about this article may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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"A Post-Tsunami Diary" - November/December 2005
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