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April 4, 2024

From an “Impossible Family” to a Peaceful Home

Dieudonné Nizeyimana and Agnès Dusabimana, from Musanze District, Cyuve Sector,  a couple who began cohabiting in 2003 and have four children, experienced years of family turmoil fueled by alcohol abuse on both sides.

After 13 years together, daily arguments consumed their relationship, leading to communication breakdowns, physical confrontations, gender-based violence, and neglect of their children’s needs.

“Our earnings were spent on alcohol instead of providing for our children, causing constant conflict,” Dieudonné confessed. Despite attempts by local authorities and leaders to intervene, their confrontations persisted, with fears of killing each other. “We almost separated,” Dieudonné recalled. “The connection was lost, and we fought constantly, fearing we might kill each other.”

Agnès recounted instances of physical abuse and harassment, “There were times he would beat me in my sleep for no reason or verbally harass me.” Their children suffered immensely due to the lack of stability, proper food, education, and a peaceful environment.

During these violent episodes, Agnes would often sustain injuries inflicted by her partner. In one severe instance, once she reported him to the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB). Despite the gravity of her injuries and potential consequences, Agnes chose to forgive him before he could be arrested.

For over six years, a conflict persisted between Dieudonné and Agnès despite attempts at local and family mediation. However, following their participation in Haguruka’s “Ingo z’Amahoro” training program, which focuses on fostering peace and understanding within families, the couple managed to resolve their issues. Dieudonné expressed that prior to the program, he believed living together with Agnès was impossible and considered their family situation a nightmare. “Our family was a nightmare; I thought it was impossible to live with my partner. I couldn’t imagine finding peace with her,” he reflected.

Through the training, Dieudonné discovered the importance of gender equality and sharing responsibility for household chores. In contrast, Agnès gained insights into addressing family issues and different types of gender-based violence. Together, they recognized their lack of communication and empathy as primary factors in escalating their family conflicts.

Inspired by their experience in “Ingo z’Amahoro,” the couple decided to legally marry in December 2023, just months after completing the program.

Dieudonné and Agnès’s story serves as a message for families in conflict. They champion the importance of engaging in community-based conflict resolution efforts. Today, they actively encourage others to embrace peace and dedicate themselves to fostering a harmonious life together.