Chapter 7: Progress

Unexpected

Translation by Ms. Haruka Osada (Simon Fraser University)

sketch Dr. MinamiOn the unknown land of Africa, Rwanda, I needed to start the research from nothing and build the basis of a new clinical method; not with an academic institute (which makes the story a lot easier), but with local organizations and NGO groups, I need to try out the new action-based reconciliation model integrating Morita Therapy, collect data and and actually support the local Rwandan people. This is the mission for the year that I tasked myself.

I already knew that the life in Africa would be tough. I was prepared for the worst, and I was determined to accomplish my task. I can proudly say I am putting everything or more into the project, and I am trying my best.

But, honestly, I was not unexpecting it to be this hard. I thought I prepared myself well enough by travelling to many battlefields around the world. However, here in Rwanda, every day, every minute, and even every second is a moment of trial and error, patience and challenge. I feel that I am really pushing myself here.

It was a long way to get here. When I came here for the first time in September, 2011, I only knew one person who is an instructor at a local organization. With an introduction from him, I visited several local organizations to explain what I am working on, and tried to get their help.

Since Rwanda is still a small country in Africa, none of the organizations have enough resources to spare. Naturally, they would not cooperate unless they see value in the project; they make decisions based on profits and losses. There was no organization willing to support my project in the beginning – a research that costs their precious budget and labor. If you are not confident with what you have, you would not last here for even a month. In fact, there are many researchers and students who gave up in the middle and went home.

It is not enough to emphasize its “effectiveness” of a research or a program here. To be accepted, you need to mention the project’s “relevancy” and “usability” for the organization, its “economic efficiency” that generates profits, as well as its “immediate effectivity” that is visible, “easiness” that requires no costly investment, and “practicality” that directly connects to an improvement of living.

They are not academic institutions. Therefore, they would not understand a complicated theory and see its value from an academic viewpoint. What is important is “universality” combined with “simplicity” that strikes their hearts. In some way, you need to be a “perfect” researcher with a perfect program and perfect method in order to be successful in Rwanda.

I cannot answer whether Morita Therapy is the “perfect” therapy. Maybe it is meaningless to have such a question. However, I am sure, from my experiences on the land of red soil, that Morita Therapy contains many different incredible elements.
Even in the extreme situations in a foreign land, Morita therapy continues to show its possibilities and lead me and the local people. To be a researcher who can maximize the Therapy’s potential, and to be a clinical psychological who deserves to use such a magnificent therapy, I would like to keep pushing myself with unexpected challenges.

PFR and Reconciliation Village

Back to the story – after many meetings with different organizations, I came across with a NGO group called Prison Fellowship Rwanda (www.pfrwanda.org); this is a Christian organization. I am a Buddhist, but they accepted me like a family without any discord from difference in religions.The Executive Director is Pastor Deo, and the Chairman is Bishop Rucyahana who is also the head of Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission. Both of them experienced the terrific Genocide and have tragic memories in their hearts.

When I met them for the first time, I appealed to them; “I, as a professional of human psychology, do not believe in the reconciliation method based on ‘forgiveness’. If you really want to forgive someone, you should let actions speak. Whether you are able to forgive the person is not a method, but a result of your mind going through a process. You cannot change your mind with words, but you should do what you can do and do it together. After this process, there will be a way for reconciliation”.

Bishop Rucyahana said to me, “Actions speak louder than words”. In reality, PFR once used the concept “forgiveness” from the religious perspective and adopted it as a method of reconciliation, but faced the problem of “the survivors who cannot forgive” and saw its limitation. As a result, they started to perceive reconciliation as a “ongoing process” a few years ago, and adopted a new program “Practical Reconciliation” with forgiveness as a mediator.

Practical Reconciliation is a concept of the Genocide survivors and the perpetrators (purposely and actively) living together in the same village and working together for the local community. It is very rare to see such a village, but PFR obtained land and permission from the Government to run the total of 6 “Reconciliation Villages”. They are trying to live up to the concept “whether you can forgive or not, do what you can do together”. There was already the spirit of Morita Therapy in the Villages before bringing academic terms and theories; it was probably because they needed to obey the law of nature after facing the limitation of western model based on “forgiveness”.

PFR – Morita Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Research Established

Everything went very quickly afterwards. We started with collecting the research data. Both Bishop and Pastor praised my project as the proof of their activity and its power, as well as something that connects to future improvement and useful data collection. But this is simply a result of what they seek for matching perfectly with what I try to accomplish; the reconciliation model they adopted contained the same principles and universality as my model based on Morita Therapy. I was very lucky to find the organization and meet these people.

Finding it as a perfect opportunity, Bishop, Pastor and I established a new research centre named PFR – Morita Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Research, and I was assigned as the chief of the centre. Starting with the 3 pairs that I introduced in my own Doctoral Thesis, we are collecting the data of 6 new pairs of the Survivor and the Perpetrator by the end of August, 2013.

After the data collection, we are going to analyze the collected data and submit the result of this research to the Government through Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission led by Bishop Rucyahana. This is to be a part of future national budget, as well as future adoption of our model in the national level.

There was something I was particular about. At a meeting with Bishop and Pastor to decide the name of this research centre, I asked them to include “Morita”, the core of my research activity, in the name. I also said “As long as I am funded by Mental Health Okamoto Memorial Foundation and Japanese Society for Morita Therapy, I would like to include their names”. Bishop Rucyahana responded, “Without help of you and other organizations related Morita, we could not start this research centre which was my dream for a long time. I am very grateful. To show my appreciation and friendship, I would love to include ‘Morita’ and it will stay in the name forever. Please let me use ‘Morita’ in the name as a proof of our friendship”.

As a head of PFR – Morita Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Research, I was able to start my research for this year and next year, which is also useful for PFR.