History & Culture

USA: A rwandan among awardees of peacebuilding

 Boniface Mudenge is one of five personalities to be awarded by Search for Common Ground, this year in New York. SFCG is the world’s largest dedicated peace-building NGO, that celebrates leaders from all walks of life who – with great courage, compassion, creativity, or perseverance – have built bridges across divides and fostered cooperation in places of confrontation.

The Common Ground Award ™ are presented annually to honor outstanding accomplishments in conflict resolution, negotiation, community building, and peacebuilding. Recipients have made significant contributions toward bridging divides between people, finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and providing inspiration and hope where often there was none. Whether Awards recipients work internationally or in their local communities, the work they do to create peace and stability has the same ripple effect.

The award seeks nominations of individuals like Mudenge, who have served in high office or positions of considerable influence. Awardees must have consistently demonstrated an active commitment to eliminating violent conflict, promoted policies of reconciliation across divided communities, and/or assumed personal risk in deescalating or mediating active or potential conflict.

2017 Awardees are five:  three Africans(Rwanda, DRC and Morocco), one American and one german.

-Boniface Mudenge, Founder of Inyenyeri Itazima Association (Republic of Rwanda)

-Sylvie Mutwambaka Mirindi, Founder of Association de Mamans sensibilisateurs (R.D.Congo)

-Fatima Benoughaz Member of the Youth Leaders Council (Morocco)

– Daniel Lubetzky, Founder and CEO of Kind Snacks (United States)

– Mahmoud Rashdan, Founder of Better Together in Germany Refugee Camps (Germany)

Who is  Mudenge?

Boniface Mudenge a genocide survivor from Buseshi sector in Rubavu. He has been nominated to receive a 2017 Common Ground Award in honor of his commitment to building peace in Rwanda, and particularly in Rubavu and Nyabihu Districts, western province.

Boniface Mudenge, is the president of Inyenyeri, the association of Genocide survivors and perpetrators, said promoting unity and reconciliation helps in the healing process.

“By working together, we managed to address the problem of properties destroyed and looted during the Genocide…We decided to create Inyenyeri association through which we sensitised people on unity and reconciliation. This led the offenders to seek forgiveness and survivors to forgive them in relation to properties worth over Rwf110 million,” he said.

He added: “Currently, we engage in development activities together, and pay no attention to ethnic differences. This has helped us to heal the wounds left behind by the Genocide; I can say that we have realized social cohesion among ourselves as a result.”

The Inyenyeri Itazima(the star with overlasting light) Association that he founded is unique example of Rwandans with different identities and backgrounds working together for reconciliation and peaceful future for the country. It started in Bugeshi sector, but now operates in six sectors of Rubavu and four of Nyabihu, with intention to expend to the whole Rwanda, Africa and the world.

Furthermore, in partnership with Search for Common Ground and the National Unity and reconciliation Commission, he provided a positive example and a role model for other Rwandans in different parts of the country seeking the moral strength and courage to undertake similar reconciliation efforts.

The Award will recognize his exceptional leadership and courage over the past two decades of extraordinary peacebuilding in Rwanda. As a Protector of Friendship Pact (“umurinzi w’igihango”) and one who has risked his life and safety for others, his story has truly moved thousand of Search for Common Ground supporters by the amazing transformation he and others have made in his community.

The Award will be presented at a Ceremony in New York City on November 30, 2017. At the event he will join an inspirational cohort of honorees from all across the world. Members of the international media, delegates attending UNGA, key US and foreign political leaders, corporate partners and sponsors, leading scholars, and members of the general public (as space allows).

Search operates in the US and more than 35 countries conducting long-term peace building in some of the most challenging regions on earth. Beyond its leading work in direct conflict mediation, it also has a unique specialty in independent media production, diplomacy, community organizing and virtual exchange – making it not only the largest organization of its type, but also the most comprehensive in approach.

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Jean Baptiste Karegeya



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