On October 1st 2015, retired Col. Augustin Nsengimana 50, deserted the Democratic Forces for Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed group largely composed of combatants responsible for the 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda which claimed a million lives.
The United States of America has blacklisted the FDLR the group that operates in the jungles of DR Congo as a terrorist group.
Nsengimana had served the FDLR group for 21 years before leaving them on September 26th, 2015.
“I was decisive. I joined the United Nations’ Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Office in Nyanzare which immediately flew me to Goma to prepare my repatriation to Rwanda,” Nsengimana told KT Press.
Once in Rwanda, he was taken to Mutobo Demobilization and Reintegration camp in Musanze district where he spent three months undergoing training on entrepreneurship, civic education and other skills to prepare him for a new life.
For Nsengimana, the concept of ‘peace’ is not limited to absence of war and conflicts; it also goes up to the state of mind.
“In the forest I was respected, with bodyguards and guns to protect me but this did not guarantee peace because I was always pessimistic; my conscience always accused me of being in a wrong place and this deprived me of sleep,” Nsengimana said.
The ex-combatant narrates that one can never feel peaceful while in the jungle, fighting for a wrong cause. On top of that, it is a place without infrastructure.
“Life in the jungle is miserable. There are no houses, no schools…children are stunted because there is no food…You cannot feel peaceful when you are in the middle of such a miserable community,” Nsengimana says.
“Now I am happy and peaceful in a safe country. I sleep, eat, work, plan for the future and in addition I feel loved. That is peace for me,” Nsengimana said while calling upon all the armed group members to repatriate and enjoy peace.
In Rwanda, Nsengimana was not only welcomed, but also allowed to contribute to community development.
He was hired by Rwanda Energy Group (REG) as field operations manager earning Rwf 300,000 per month which helps him to take good care of his family of five children and a wife in Rubavu district.
Today, September 21st the world is celebrating the 36th anniversary of ‘International Day of Peace’ under the theme ‘Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for all’.
At National level, Never Again Rwanda- a human rights and peace building organization in partnership with National Unity and Reconciliation Commission has organized an event dubbed ‘Youth and Parliamentarians Exchange’.
The Youth from different districts and Cabinet members met in parliament to discuss peace. The discussions centred on ‘family conflict resolution”.
During a panel discussion focused on the role of children in family conflict resolution, Dr Eric Ndushabandi Director of the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) said that Rwandan families need to communicate on better strategies to raise children and avoid conflicts.
“You may find many people busy trying to resolve other people’ s conflicts but not their own. Parents need to involve children in family affairs for them to participate in decisions that are taken for them,” Dr Ndushabandi said.
Immaculee Mukankubito, Director of Operations and Quality Control Director Operations and Quality Control at Never again Rwanda told participants, “for Rwandans to achieve sustainable peace in families, they have to be healed from Genocide wounds because family laws alone cannot help much.”
Hon. Donatille Mukabalisa, Speaker of Parliament that hosted the discussions told youth to use the chance they were given by the country to sustain it.
“You are lucky to have a President who loves you. Please use that chance and do what is right for you and the country,” said Mukabalisa.
The discussions brought together youth from 20 districts, cabinet members and different organizations.