Post-traumatic stress disorder has become a very common problem amongst Rwandans, nearly one in every six Rwandans suffers from depression, as stated by Partners in Health, which explains why different organisational programs like Batete have scaled up their efforts to raise awareness on mental health and heal victims of mental illness. The Batete program focuses on healing children and teenager girls that have been raped, abused, sexually and emotionally as Ubumuntu C.E.O Hope Azeda puts it.
"During COVID there was a lot of violence against children, heightened, and this is not just a Rwandan case, it was a global pandemic itself where girls were being raped and facing all sorts of sexual assaults.
So during COVID, teenage pregnancies, the rise was really high, the numbers have multiplied over and over again. So it’s from that spirit that is against that background, that I felt the need, how do you bring back affection, Batete means affection and being affectionate, how do you bring back that child that has been lost. I believe that a wounded spirit will live to wound."
It hosts these girls in a discreet boot camp for a certain period of time where they go through healing and empowerment sessions such as counselling from different mentors, trauma healing through arts, music therapy, shoe making.
Lucy is one of them and she says "I was never lucky enough to be raised by my biological parents , I was abandoned when I was just 3 months old , that has affected me mentally and emotionally. Here at Batete, every morning, we used to get a visit from a counsellor, he would give us the chance to share our stories and talk about our troubles.The more we talk about the causes to our mental illness the more we get closer to healing.
Statistics from The Rwanda Investigation Bureau show that between June 2019 and July 2021, at least 579 people committed suicide due to mental illness. But with help from programs like batete, there’s hope for a decline of these numbers.