Date of Graduation

Spring 5-16-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International and Multicultural Education (IME)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education (IME)

First Advisor

Colette Cann, Ph.D


Sixty percent of the current Rwandan population were born after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and those born since or who were young at the time of the genocide have remained among those affected most. Although Western trauma theorists and interventionists have played the role of experts in the genocide healing, the exclusion of the indigenous population’s experiences, knowledge, and wisdom has limited them from meeting local needs. The post-genocide situation raises various issues, genocide ideology, and increasing family homicides; however, locals do not want to seek counseling services, or run the risk of being labeled as mentally ill. The goal of this Grounded Action research with 23 high school students (18-24 years of age ), was to create an opportunity for indigenous people to develop and implement strategies to take ownership of genocide healing rooted in their realities. Results showed that while prolonged and accumulated adversities may strengthen resilience for some, for many, tragic events that come and stay, locally known as inzira y’umusaraba, can lead to guheranwa n’amateka (feeling stuck in history). When framing resources to buffer guheranwa (feeling stuck) and imitima (stress), participants decided kwishakamo ibisubizo (finding solutions from within themselves) through building a family-like community, kongera kwiyubaka (building themselves again), and kwigira (communal economic self-reliance). The findings provide community grounded theoretical guidance for trauma healing, peace-building, reconciliation, conflict management, and self-reliance efforts in Rwanda by providing research, educational, and psychosocial strategies rooted in indigenous needs and culture.

Key Terms: Genocide, Grounded Theory, Grounded Action, Guheranwa, Kongera Kwiyubaka, trauma, and Stress.