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History

History


REACH Organisation in Rwanda is a Christian non-profit making organisation which is legally registered as an independent NGO under the Ministerial Decree of the Ministry of Justice in Rwanda.

REACH stands for Reconciliation Evangelism And Christian Healing.

The organisation was founded in 1996 based on the vision of its founder and director Rev. Philbert Kalisa, an ordained minister of the Anglican Church. Rev. Kalisa was born in 1966 to Rwandan parents who were exiled in a refugee camp in Burundi due to the killings and other serious human rights violations against Tutsis which started in 1959. After accepting Christ as his personal Saviour in 1982, he pursued theological education in Burundi and became an ordained minister of the Anglican Church of Burundi in 1989. He was blessed with further opportunities to pursue his Diploma and BA degrees in the United Kingdom from 1990 onwards.

While he was pursuing his BA degree in theology at Trinity College Bristol in 1995, Rev. Kalisa finally got a chance to visit his home country of Rwanda, which was then still in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. He set his feet for the very first time in life on Rwandan soil. He gladly claimed his citizenship which he had never had since his birth. However, he was shocked at the devastation of his country and learnt about the great suffering of the Rwandan people who were confronting enormous difficulties as they were trying to rebuild their lives. He also observed signs of deep trauma, hopelessness, fears and hatred among the people whom he met during his visit. This unforgettable home visit experience inspired him to seek ways through which the process of healing and reconciliation could be advanced among the citizens of his native land. He then conducted research for his dissertation on 'The Ministry of Reconciliation in Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide' through which he explored the role of the Church in bringing about healing, reconciliation and unity among Rwandans.

By the time he completed his research, Rev. Kalisa became convinced that God was calling him for His ministry of reconciliation in Rwanda. He then shared with his friends in Britain the vision to establish an independent NGO for addressing the needs of healing and reconciliation in Rwanda. Some of his friends who were from different Christian denominations then worked together to form a support organisation named REACH for Rwanda (hereafter REACH/UK) which was legally registered in UK as a charity in August 1996. Since then REACH/UK has been a faithful supporter of the ministry of Rev. Kalisa and his team in Rwanda.

After the completion of his studies in UK in August 1996, he came straight to Rwanda with his family in order to establish an independent NGO working for healing and reconciliation among Rwandan people. Responding to his request for support his friends and other Rwandans from different Christian denominations assisted him to set up REACH/Rwanda and establish its constitutions and other governance policies.

The organisation then began to develop contacts with various denominations in the country so that the ministry could become an interdenominational ministry. Like many other local and international NGOs, REACH/Rwanda had to wait for many months until NGO registration was obtained from the Rwandan government. As soon as it obtained a temporary registration in March 1998, the organisation began to organise seminars and workshops in Kibungo Province (recently incorporated into the Eastern Province) and then gradually extended its ministry to Butare Province (now part of the Southern Province) and a part of Kigali Rural Province (now part of the Northern Province). In July 2002, the organisation obtained an NGO registration from the Ministry of Justice which has been maintained until today.

Since 1998, the organisation has trained 3,680 people including local religious and government leaders as well as women and youth who belong to different Christian denominations or a Muslim community. After a series of seminars and workshops, participants were challenged to respond to the needs of healing and reconciliation within their own communities. Consequently, six local committees have been established in five different districts - Bugesera , Kayonza, Kirehe and Rwamagana in the Eastern Province and Rulindo in the Northern Province - in order to promote and coordinate local initiatives for healing, reconciliation and peace-building in each of the respective districts. This ministry centred on healing and reconciliation seminars and continuous effort at bridge-building among people with different backgrounds or those from opposing sides of the conflict (e.g. women who are genocide survivors and women whose husbands are prisoners suspected of genocide-related crimes).

This has born fruit in the form of 15 associations or 'Unity Groups' being set up with about 200 members. These groups are engaged in various social, economic and cultural activities such as sports, music and dancing, bible study, group savings and different types of income generating activities (e.g. craft making, animal rearing, crops trading). The Unity Groups have inspired other members of the local communities through their activities based on the spirit of unity and reconciliation. As a result, growing numbers of the local population have been expressing their desire to take part in the REACH/Rwanda's ministry in years to come.

Since its foundation in 1996, the organisation has been relying on REACH/UK for most of its financial needs. In recent years, however, God has been providing the organisation with exciting opportunities to build its support base in other countries. In April 2005, the organisation signed an agreement with the Japan Baptist Convention (JBC) to start the Cooperative Mission Programme towards REACH's vision of healing and reconciliation. In June 2006, supporters in U.S.A established a charity organisation named REACH U.S.A. (hereafter REACH / US) in order to strengthen their support raising effort in U.S.A.

REACH / Rwanda currently has four national staff (three full-time and one part-time) and one expatriate volunteer from Japan.

 

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