Overcoming Trauma and Rebuilding in the African Great Lakes
Since 2019, Libraries Without Borders has supported the psychosocial work of several centers and associations in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In collaboration with the Confédération Suisse (Switzerland), LWB installed seven digital libraries – Ideas Cube media kits – to allow people better access to information on sensitive subjectssuch as gender-based violence or the Rwandan genocide. Together with facilitators, we create safe spaces so that people may express themselves freely, overcome their psychological suffering, and rebuild themselves.
We met with Maurice Mayimbikiza, project manager in Burundi.
Created by Libraries Without Borders, the Ideas Cube is an autonomous digital library that works without an internet connection. It emits a Wi-fi hotspot to which thirty users can connect simultaneously with smartphones, tablets, or a computer to access tons of content, including texts, videos, and online courses.
In 2019, we equip several partner organizations of Switzerland with Ideas Cubes in the African Great Lakes region, including the Network of Women for the Defense of Rights and Peace (Réseau des femmes pour la défense des droits et de la paix) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Seruka Initiative for Victims of Rape (Initiative Seruka pour les victimes de viol) in Burundi, and Life Wounds Healing Association in Rwanda.
The content of the Ideas Cubes, selected and curated by our teams, addresses various issues: gender-based violence, rights and protections, sexual and reproductive health, conflict resolution, reconciliation, citizenship, and victim health and wellbeing.
“The focus of the collection is placed on empowering women and their rights. It is an essential element for attaining equality. And above all, it matters to everyone. Other content is also available on the Ideas Cube: in Rwanda, for example, videos encouraging discussions about the geneocide — about wounds and the process of healing.” –Maurice Mayimbikiza, project manager in Burundi.
Last year, our teams trained fifty coordinators, community leaders, and social workers. It was an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Ideas Cube and its content, and to imagine a range of activities for their audiences. A few months later, the first feedback was conclusive!
“The Ideas Cube became a reference tool, the arrival of which changed the dynamics of partner associations. Before, coordinators had little information on these subjects. They relied predominantly on a few notes and documents, not very well adapted to their audiences. They now have access to hundreds of different types of items and videos that allow them to organize debates and to speak freely with the goal of changing behaviors. More and more people are participating!
In certain workshops, women can more easily participate, sharing their experiences and counseling younger women. These moments of discussion are critical for them to grow up with complete confidence, overcome trauma, and rebuild oneself.” –Maurice Mayimbikiza, project manager in Burundi.
Translation: Austin Li
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