Is it possible to live in true peace due to a peaceful environment?
I wish. But then I remember Tibet. Or Cyprus. Or really, Palestine for that matter.
However, inner peace can radiate outward to create a welcoming environment.
The Prison Fellowship Reconciliation Village east of Nyamata has aspects of both. The physical land of Rwanda is outstandingly beautiful. Just check out the photos from Kibuye under photography. Doing yoga on my back porch or eating passion fruit on the banana leaf chairs before the sun is fully up makes me feel bad for all of you who can’t experience this as well. Seriously, this land reeks tranquility.
Unfortunately, the history of man on the land does not reflect the same sentiment. Enter the myriad of NGOs out here facilitating forgiveness and repentance.
The Reconciliation Villages are one of the first efforts at facilitating situations where victims and perpetrators can live and work literally side-by-side.
The village I saw currently has 110 homes. It is the second largest of PFR‘s Reconciliation Villages. The villagers come from prisons, widows, women whose husbands are currently in prison (meaning they are charged as some form of master-minding the genocide), children who had no family left and now have a home to call their own. Together, they cultivate the surrounding plots of land, raise six pigs, herds of goats, and 100 cattle. They share these profits and harvests among everyone.
Walking the streets of this village was eerily peaceful. Partly due to its remote location, and partly due to the fact that in the middle of the day the majority of residents are out working, this village was dead quiet. It was nice. The sun was out, but not fiercely burning. A gentle breeze blew on the back of my neck, keeping my body comfortably cool. Children chattered in the background, but not in a loud too-many-unruly-children-running-about way. And I walked with my camera past rows of neatly built, identical homes with their bush fences out front.
It was peaceful.
My prayer, is that underneath the cosmetic peace and despite the extreme poverty and close quarters, true peace is growing in the hearts and minds of those intimately affected by the events of 1994.