Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources

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House for a Victim

Arete, Rwanda

Ed Dale-Harris, a Diploma Unit 6 5th year student has been working with REACH, a local charity, whose mission has been the reconciliation of Rwanda post-genocide. They have now trained over 22,000 rural Rwandans in peace building, starting over 30 cooperatives made up of victim and culprits. One of their most successful programmes is a restorative justice house building program.

This involves recently released prisoners and perpetrators of the genocide. Perpetrators meet their victims and victims’ family, and build them a house. They first take part in a 3 month seminar training programme consisting of 9 full days of lectures and discussions. At the end of the training they discuss what they can do next. The perpetrators often want to do something restorative to say thank you for being forgiven. In this case they offered to build a house for the family of one of their victims.

After visiting and studying rural house building methods and visiting the prior houses REACH had built in the area, Ed offered his hand in designing and building an improved house, with the same budget (£3000) and same locally available materials.

The proposed site in Arete, is located in the South of Kigali, in the Bugesera District, up the hills by the Nyabarongo River. This river was once a dumping ground for Tutsis during the genocide - many bodies were thrown into the river, with perpetrators saying to the dead Tutsi “go back to Ethiopia where you came from”.

On the other side of the valley is the sector Ntrama and up on the crest of the hill lives a farmer called Rutaganda. He lives in a wattle and daub house with a corrugated metal roof with his wife and two children. He is living on his father’s land on the plot where his father’s house used to be. His family was killed during the genocide and his father’s house was destroyed. He is the beneficiary whom we are building a house for.

REACH School Rwanda: www.reachschoolrwanda.com

ARCSR - Rwanda Project: www.studyrwanda.blogspot.co.uk

All images copyright of Ed Dale-Harris.