‘0+ Relationship’

One of the most critical contributions the ABPRA has made is the fact that it provided the sheer time, space, and purpose through which each dyad could develop a form of relationship. The term 0+ relationship emerged from my observations of the dyads’ mending and developing their scarred relationships. In conflict mediation, the focus tends to be on ‘mending’ the minus aspects of relationships. Throughout this research, I have witnessed that all dyads not only mended their relationships but also continued to build on their relationships. The term 0+ relationship refers to this relationship developed beyond mending the minuses in their relationship. It was fascinating to witness many kind of relationships emerging over the course of sessions. Each dyad ended up developing a particular kind of relationship by the last session.

Louise and Matabaro

For example, it had been my impression that the Louise and Matabaro pair appeared as an employer and her employee. As I discovered, the survivor was considered by others (e.g., families and friends) as a little ‘bossy.’ Over the course of eight sessions, she began to feel more and more comfortable in making requests to her ex-prisoner pair to engage in more physically demanding joint-labours. In turn, she started preparing rewards for him. She started preparing a meal for him to eat after each session. Between their ABPRA sessions, she also brought her homemade sorghum beer to his home as her token of appreciation for his continuous hard work. She had also learned that the ex-prisoner has been financially challenged. Then, she decided to offer him a job to run and co-own a tomato farming business at their last session. Literally, they have not only mended their relationship but also nurtured it to the one of an employer and an employee. The photo below shows the pair standing in front of their first tomato garden.

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Lawurencia and Thasiani

I had also gathered an impression that the Lawurencia and Thasiani pair had developed a relationship like the one of a wife and a husband. At the beginning of each session, I followed them walking to the survivor’s field. Postures with which they walked and the conversation they have had with their laughter both gave me an impression of a wife and a husband walking together to the field. The photo below depicts the sight I have witnessed as they walked at the beginning of each session.

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At their follow-up session, they informed me that they have decided to marry their grand children. Literally, they became in-laws.

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Lawurencia and Fredelic

For Lawurencia and Fredelic pair, I had always felt an impression that they were like a brother and a sister. They informed me that they did indeed grew up together like a brother and a sister. However, the 1994 genocide tore their relationship apart as Fredelic murdered Lawurencia’s family members. Lawurencia reported that it was a devastatingly sad and frightening experience for her. But what was more shocking for her, and what hurt her the most, was to discover that her childhood best friend (Fredelic) was the one who murdered her family members.

Over the course of the sessions, they reported that their working together gave them an opportunity to bring back many conversations about their common good old childhood memories, which reminded them of how it felt like for them in their childhood to be best friends. By their last session, they reported that they brought back and reclaimed their old friendship and siblinghood. The photo below depicts a moment of carrying the ‘ambiance’ of their reclaimed best friendship and sibling-hood.

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