On Friday afternoon, after we had managed to squeeze our luggage into the bus before our drive to Ruhengeri, we went to the Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission in Kigali. Here, Mr. Francis Musoni (Coordinator of the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission) told us that the programme’s goals are to contribute to peace in the region as well as helping to foster national unity. He also told us how Rwanda offers economic as well as social support to ex-combatants and their dependents in order to facilitate their reintegration. The information he gave us was very relevant as the next day we were going to visit the Mutobo demobilisation centre near Ruhengeri. But before we set off on the next leg of our journey, we had time to have a quick look round the Amahoro Stadium which played such an important role during the genocide.
It was dark (and rather chilly, compared to Kigali) when we arrived in Ruhengeri but it was great to see another part of the country. The next morning, we went to MUTOBO Demobilisation Centre which currently has nearly 250 ex-combatants taking part in a reintegration programme. Mr. Jean-Marie Turabumukiza told us about the Centre’s work and how the programme includes lessons on topics such as good governance and gender issues to entrepreneurial skills employment opportunities. We were then invited to hear testimonies from some of the ex-combatants. They welcomed us by singing and dancing – something we certainly weren’t expecting! We were also given the opportunity of breaking off into smaller groups so we could talk on a more individual basis to the former combatants who had all been part of military groups in eastern DRC. It was a memorable experience to speak on a one-to-one basis with them and to learn a little more about why they had decided to return to Rwanda. After photos we were once again treated to more singing – this time ‘goodbye’ song – and some impressive dancing (both by the ex-Ags and by some of our group who joined in with them).
Then it was time to hit the road once more – we were off to Gisenyi!