A Day of Peace

The United Nations has declared Sept 21st the International Day of Peace in order to “strengthen the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples”.


When I read about this day, I thought the month of September would be the natural time to focus on the counseling program we established at our cooperative in Rwanda (if you missed the first post of the month, you may read it here).


Every day, our counselors, Olive and Mary Claire, are onsite at our cooperative offering group and individual trauma counseling to the ladies. Counseling is a new concept in Rwanda. Talking about your feelings or perceived weaknesses is not natural but, little by little, one chip at a time, Olive and Mary Claire use their patience, and talents and love to break down walls that were built up over the 25 years that have passed since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.


Below, you will see a video of one our employees. Her name is Speciose, or Special in English. Speciose wanted to share her story of healing with us because she believes the counseling she has received since her hiring at TVM has changed her life.


The trauma she survived during the genocide was unimaginable…you might think it would be unsurvivable  were you in her situation. I certainly do.


How do you move past something so horrific?


Speciose survived but was left with crippling trauma. Every April, Rwanda observes a wek of mourning following Genocide Memorial Day on April 7th. And, every April following the genocide – from 1995 until 2017 – Speciose had to be hospitalized as she relived the trauma she endured.


Hope was lost. Peace was shattered.


My heart aches for her as I imagine her fear and anxiety building…when? March? February? How many months prior to April did the dread begin to build – knowing the tidal wave of grief is coming and you can do nothing to stop it?


And then…in 2017, Speciose was hired by True Vineyard. She began working with Olive and Mary Claire. She began learning how to give voice to her grief.


Little by little…


She learned how to chip away at the walls she had built.


Bit by bit…

And, when the mourning period came in April 2018, so did the grief…


…but Speciose withstood.


2018 marked the first year since the Genocide against the Tutsi that Speciose did not require hospital care.


I cannot say enough about Olive and Mary Claire. They work tirelessly to ensure the needs of every woman we employ are met. They are angels of hope and we give thanks for them every day.


Please take a few minutes to watch this video, to hear Speciose explain what the counseling program has meant to her, how it helped her find her own peace.


On September 21st, I hope you’ll remember that it is the International Day of Peace and that you will pray for  those who are fearlessly fighting for peace…


…in their communities and in their own hearts.

Amy Brinkerhoff