Churchgoers hail RICH for advancing family harmony

Church-goers in Kamonyi district, south Rwanda have commended Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health (RICH) for promoting family harmony and putting it on their leaders’ daily sermon, saying it is the foundation for sustainable peace and development in their daily lives.

Men and women in Kamonyi have come out to express that there is a positive change since RICH alongside faith leaders embarked on calling against domestic violence, sexual abuse of children, harassment and several harmful traditional practices during their sermon and homilies.

Agnes Uwifashije, a mother of two who lives in Karama sector, Kamonyi district said that a couple years ago many of her neighbors lived an unhappy life, because there were an alarming number of domestic conflicts and rights violations in their area. “But since preachers started to call against violent behavior, domestic violence, misuse of family properties, sexual abuse of children and drunkenness have gone better,” she says.

Martin Kalisa ***recalls how bitter his life had become. “Domestic conflicts emerged in my family when I suspected my wife to see another man. Surprisingly she was also told by our scandal mongering neighbors that I was meeting another woman. We didn’t talk to each other, we rather became aggressive, and our children suffered a lot,” admits Elias Bizimana.

But his wife Uwase Solange*** has a good family story to tell about their pastor’s intervention. “We would skip our parents’ responsibilities and blamed each other. It affected our family badly, but when our pastor brought us to meet up and talk about our quarrels, we realized they were unfounded. The concubinage accusations were all fabricated by our neighbors. We are now a happy reunited family since then,” she rejoices.

Ernest Ugirashebuja is a pastor at International Pentecostal Holiness Church. Following an awareness and a training by RICH through the “Claiming Social Reproductive Health in Rwanda Project” initiated to tackle domestic violence, he has been following-up conflicting couples in Kamonyi, where his church has a branch. He says “Thanks to this project championed by RICH to create awareness on domestic violence prevention and response, we have adjusted our daily homilies towards grooming harmonious families. We have come to realize that it is rather our responsibility to focus on promoting harmony in families because God calls everyone to work for the wellbeing of our families.”

He’s convinced that since religious leaders command a big audience and are quite influential in communities, they should all play an active role in uniting efforts to build strong families, not only preach the abstract word of God.

“As we continue to offer people spiritual and moral guidance, we should also use that commanding position to preach about harmony, promoting peace and development in our families,” he adds.

Since 2017 Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health (RICH) through the generous funding from the Scottish Government, has been partnering with OFAM Rwanda and the government of Rwanda through the ministry of gender and family promotion MIGEPROF to create awareness about domestic violence and champion a positive change in social attitudes and cultural norms in 6 districts across Rwanda.

**: Pastor Ernest Ugirashebuja (Telephone: 0788-618-048) has been following-up with conflicting couples. RICH should consider checking with him to liaise with people he’s accompanied, unless there’s an otherwise agreed upon internal policy regulating protection of domestic & GBV victims and antagonists.

Claiming Social Reproductive Health in Rwanda (CSRHR), is a 4-year project aimed at creating awareness at local and national levels on GBV prevention and response, strengthening the capacities of Isange One Stop Centers for high quality provision of sexual and reproductive health services as well as empowering SGBV victims economically. The CSRHR project is implemented by the Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health (RICH) with the funding from the Scottish Government through OXFAM.