Hello My Band of Merri Readers,
Sorry about the lack of posts these past couple days wifi has not corporated lately. But today's blog is about our time spent in the TIG Camp. Now for those who do not know a TIG Camp is a work prison camp for those who have confessed to committing acts of Genocide. These camps are temporary and meant for those who confessed to help rebuild the country they tried to destroy. Going to a TIG camp is all voluntary and in order to go you have to confess and go to the family's of the people you have murdered and ask for forgiveness. Also working in a TIG camp can reduce ones sentence. The men at the camp were happy to greet us, and did so with clapping and song. This experience is very strange, we are meeting with men who have committed brutal crimes and yet they smile. This was one thing that puzzled me last year. This year I was able to see their humanity.
They smile because they are now rebuilding Rwanda. The Rwandan prison is vastly different from America's because they actually try to reform prisoners back into everyday life and not make them professional prisoners. When someone confesses to committing the Rwandan government puts them through from what I understand as (being told by one of the prisoners) some sort of therapy to help get rid of the Hutu Extremists thinking. Most of these men were very young when they participated in the Genoicde, and they were taken in by propaganda (not taking away the cruelty of their crimes).
Coming back a second time really made reflect on my forgiveness. Seeing how they truly are trying to repent and make up for their crimes made me think "how does Rwnada forgive?". I started to realize how much I hold grudges over the littlest things and here are people going to families of people they have killed asking for forgiveness and receiving it. That is something I hope to bring back to America is forgiveness. It is truly impressive the progress Rwanda has made after the Genocide.
Another note to be said about the TIG camp is that there are not walls around the camp. It is wide open, the men working there are allowed to leave attend graduations, weddings, funerals, and other things. When asked; "Do the prisoners come back?" The man giving us the tour (I can't remember his name, but he was an official in the Prison system) responded a little thrown off; "They always come back." To him and the prisoners not coming back doesn't cross their mind. They want to rebuild their country and when their sentence is over they go back home and live their normal lives. Meaning being in prison does not follow them around on a record like it does in America, they are allowed to re-enter society.
When I can I will upload a video of us dancing with the prisoners before we left the camp.
Well that's it for this post! Find out what happens next time... On the next post on CPT. SAM'S BLOG!!
Cpt. Samuel M. Merriman