Lilian Abatoni is married and mother to a wonderful son named Thyra. She is a devoted Christian with significant involvement in her church community. She is also an administrator for the non-profit Africa New Life Ministry organization, and a graduate of Live Again Rwanda’s 2013-2014 counseling class – part of our first cohort to receive counselor training in Kigali, and one of our best students!
Lilian says the training has transformed her own life, as well as the lives of her family members and many community members.
“Before I joined this class, I was a big advice-giver,” she says. “I knew listening was going to be a part of it (the training) but I didn’t think it was going to be as powerful and transformative as it came to be. Prior to joining the class, I had many people coming to me and trusting me with the stories of their lives – their issues and their struggles . . . I heard them but I didn’t really listen to them.”
After Lilian began the Live Again Rwanda counseling class, she realized she had several personal issues that needed to be resolved before she could truly help other people. Lilian had a difficult time naming what was causing the pain; she just knew her life was not in order.
“The timing (of the training) was crucial for me,” she says. “I came burdened but as we continued, my burdens became lighter. I started healing. I was able to put a name on my pain which helped me deal with it. I learned that I struggled with forgiveness. As I opened my eyes on a new way of looking at things, I was able to go through the process of forgiveness . . .
“The class helped me deal with it and I discovered a better way. My life is not the same, my marriage is not the same. It (the counselor training) has transformed me for better.”
As Lilian continues to serve her community, she is using her counseling skills to help heal the broken-hearted. She tells the story of a man who walked into her office recently. He was looking for Lilian’s colleague, seeking help with some financial issues related to his schooling.
By carefully listening, Lilian, realized the man was struggling with some important personal pain. When he broke down in tears, she offered heart-felt empathy and validation of what he was feeling.
“It was difficult for him, but we went through it together and the man who thought he came in to find only financial help was able to walk away with hope and a healing heart,” Lilian says.
Counselling has become an essential part of her work, and many souls are healing because of it.
“(My employer) has a better version of me because of the Live Again Rwanda counseling class,” Lilian says. “My life would have not have been as impactful. I would have been walking around with unforgiveness and shame. My confidence wouldn’t be the same, and my life would not be as purposeful as it is today. I learned courage and openness, but more than anything, I am grateful for healing.”