Counselling, Rwanda, Kigali, Impact Story, NGO, TransformationImpact Stories

Isaac’s Journey of Transformation

Rwanda, Kigali, Counselling, Live Again Rwanda, Therapy,

Isaac is a 39-year-old Rwandan. He was born in Uganda to refugee parents who had fled Rwanda in 1959 due to ethnic discrimination. Isaac did his schooling in Uganda and returned to Rwanda in 2006. Currently, he is a Coordinator of a Pre and Postnatal ministry project that provides midwifery services to vulnerable women in a low-income community of Kigali. As a graduate of the Live Again Rwanda six-month lay counselling training program, he talks about the importance of counselling in the ministry that he is part of in Kigali.

When Isaac enrolled in our program he thought that he was just going to gain skills on how to give advice and help other people “get rid of their issues”. But when Isaac came to our program he learned not only tips and skills, but he also experienced transformation in his own personal life.

“Before I came to the counselling class, I was very judgemental and impatient. I had issues in my relationships. My relationship with my mother was full of conflicts and we had a lot of problems relating to one another. I was such a perfectionist and a performer. I also had a lot of issues with my girlfriend. I realized in those counselling classes that my brokenness has caused a lot of wounds in her life. I was hurting people and didn’t care. I was pushy and insensitive”.

Isaac who is in charge of receiving expectant mothers who have many personal, relational and domestic issues, did not know how to help these women with their issues. These women are often in marriages that are not legal, which means that a woman can be three months pregnant with her partner’s baby, but by the time she is nine months pregnant the man has left her.

It has been a few years since Isaac graduated from the counselling program. Since then, Isaac has found himself gracious and patient with people he serves. He has been able to help these women deal with the conflicts in their households. A big percentage of them face a form of domestic violence and some of it is quite severe. Isaac has been able to sit with them, sojourn with them and sees them as more than just beneficiaries of the ministry. He knows more than just their pregnancy status, rather he knows them personally and has been able to sojourn with them in a deeper way. Some of these vulnerable women are also single mothers and they experience a lot on their own and Isaac has been able to come along side these women as well and journey with them.

Counselling, Rwanda, Kigali, Impact Story, NGO, Transformation

My Ministry Transformation

“One of the hardest things has been to sojourn with a mother who lost her baby and we have had some of these cases. Without these counselling skills I would have not known how to sojourn with such people as they grieve the loss of their own babies. I am able to provide counselling to some of these women which has definitely brought a level of comfort to people that are mourning. One of my clients was abandoned by her family. Everybody thought that she struggled with a form of mental illness, she even developed a sense of her own identity around her illness. When I met her, I was glad that I had taken the counselling course because none of her issues were to do with mental illness. She was lost, discouraged and was struggling to find herself. It has been a beautiful journey to walk with her because I see her coming back to herself on a daily basis, and breaking the myth about her being a crazy person. She is healing slowly”.

My Personal Transformation

“With my relationships, I have been able to recover from the wounds that I caused my girlfriend. Counselling brought an awareness that I had wounded her so deeply. I apologized. I sought forgiveness. I changed. Counselling transformed me. I am a different man today. (They were married in November 2016). My mother and I are better with each other now. We are not conflict free, but I am not as stressful as a man as I used to be. I pay attention to issues before they happen. I have learnt to take care of myself which helps me to give emotional support to others.”

“There is another case of a woman who lost her baby. The baby was burnt by hot cereal and she died as a result of her burns. I seriously I don’t know how I would’ve done this work with this woman without having these counselling skills. The journey was painful and I am grateful that I have been able to sojourn with this woman as she is now pregnant with her second baby. I am changed man. I am a transformed man. My work has been forever transformed. Thank you Live Again Rwanda. Had I not come to Live Again Rwanda for these counselling trainings, my people would have suffered and died silently. Now they are more open and we are slowly rebuilding lives and I am grateful.”


Staff Bios

Josee Rwambara Mukeshimana

Josee is the enthusiastic 23-year-old Administrative Assistant at Live Again Rwanda. She is a healthcare student who loves reading, listening to music and watching movies. She is a graduate of the Southern New Hampshire University under the Kepler Program. She is pursuing her education in Healthcare Management with a concentration in global perspectives. She is passionate about healthcare and has always enjoyed helping people.

When she saw how Live Again Rwanda was changing people’s lives, she took that as an opportunity and decided to take part in that wonderful process. She knows and believes that through her contribution of skills at Live Again Rwanda, she is contributing to helping  Rwandans to live again.

Staff Bios

Catherine Gitau

Play Therapist

Children don’t say, “I had a hard day, can we talk?” They say, “Will you play with me?” – Lawrence Cohen

The Play Therapist and Filial Play Coach is Catherine. She is a qualified Early Childhood teacher with over 16 years teaching experience in Australia, Kenya and Rwanda. She became interested in Play Therapy after she began teaching children in Out of Home (Foster) Care & realised that her students needed more support than she could offer as a teacher. To date she has completed more than 500 practice hours of Play Therapy in both school settings and in private practice.

She holds a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood) from Charles Sturt University (Australia), and a Postgraduate Diploma in Practice Based Play Therapy (with Distinction) from Canterbury Christ Church University (UK). In addition, she is a Filial Play Coach under Play Therapy International. Catherine is passionate about the way play impacts every aspect of a child’s life.

Catherine is a registered member of Play Therapy International, practicing under their strict ethical framework & clinical supervision requirements.

For more info:

Staff Bios

Marvin Tumwesigye

Marvin, has a Bachelors in Social Sciences and Business. He is passionate about business and social work because it comes with a sense of giving back to the community through what he does. Improving the quality of life of other people is something he feels strongly about. As a business owner, he is driven by the fact that he can add value to products and services by finding solutions to challenges and problems that result into profits.

Live Again Rwanda has both the socio-economic aspects of an organization. He likes thinking about several strategies of growing the business and improving the quality of services provided. This for him also involves the counseling part of sojourning with clients and helping them solve their problems. He believes that people are being empowered when they are able to make their own decisions about their life issues.

Marvin has always loved counseling and it has always been a part of his life. He has always known that counseling is something he should pursue. Besides this, some activities he enjoys doing are meeting new people, playing football and doing team sports.

Staff Bios

Kelly Johnson Gahaya

Kelly Johnson Gahaya, MA. Certified Professional Counselor.

Kelly is Certified Professional Counselor, an empathetic and active listener who is very focused on helping people move beyond the problems in their lives that impact their daily living.
She is passionate about teaching counseling and empowering her students to use their new found skills to help others. She believes in the equality of all persons and the provision of good clinical care for each client that she sees.
She holds a Master’s degree in Counselling from Providence University and Seminary in Canada. She has over 15 years of experience working as a therapist. Her specialty is couples therapy, Trauma and mental health work. However, she also provides counseling in a variety of other areas.

Impact Stories

Our 6 months Training Underway

We are pleased to share that our counselling students have completed their first level of the 6 month lay counselling training!!! 45 hours of teaching in Basic Skills in Counselling. Topics include: What is Counselling, Confidentiality, Active Listening, Attending Behavior, Empathy, Open and Close Ended Questions, Emotions vs.Thoughts, Primary and Secondary Emotions, Goal Setting, Termination and Self Care of the Counselor. Congratulations Students, you have worked hard and have been very diligent. Well done!

Our Foundations level of counselling has been both exciting and challenging for our students as they have learned to practice their new found skills with one another. Our program has a strong practical component . The students practice counselling skills every Monday night on one another.

This past week we started on our next module: Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Last Mondays class was very powerful as our students (and teachers) were working through areas of un-forgiveness in their own lives. Please pray with us in these next weeks as we dig deep into ourselves and the subject matter so that we can be set free individually and then in turn help those who also find forgiveness as a challenge. More to come and please like and follow our Facebook page for more updates

Impact Stories

The Journey of Learning

September through November were busy months for Live Again Rwanda. We have been continuing with our regular counselling classes on Monday nights and Saturday mornings. Six hours of class per week. This is a huge commitment for our students but they are diligent and determined and Manage to get themselves there every week. We are pleased to share that Our students have completed their first level of the 6 month lay Counselling training!!! 45 hours of teaching in Basic Counselling Skills. Topics include: What is Counselling, Confidentiality, Active Listening, Attending Behavior, Empathy, Open and Close Ended Questions, Emotions vs.Thoughts, Primary and Secondary Emotions, Goal Setting, Termination and Self Care of the Counselor.

Our students need to complete at least 80% of the classes in order to receive a certificate of completion at the end of the 6 months. Certificates are very important to our students, so, they are making every effort to be there and participate fully. Our Foundations level has been both exciting and challenging for our students as they have learned to practice their new found skills with one another.

This has been “terrifying” for some, as it is a foreign concept to be practicing skills rather than just listening to a lecturer. Our program has a strong practical component which I believe is the way good counselors are made….not simply through learning the theory.The students practice their counselling skills every Monday night in class and Saturdays mornings are our theory days. During their sessions on Monday nights, I have asked the students to talk about real issues in their sessions and it has been amazing to see how much they are helping each other with the concerns in their lives.

The inspiring part comes in when you hear how the teaching has been impacting our students, amazing learners with ability to pick up knowledge that easily confirms how needed counselling skills are! One girl reported last week that she felt so connected and understood by her counselor that she began to cry and felt like a weight lifted from her during their time together. Another student shared with theacher  that one of her in-class clients called her and asked if they could meet for a counselling session outside of class time as she had felt so helped by her when they met in class And yet another student who was trying desperately to not “give advice” to her client (as the teacher has hammered this point into them that advice giving is not counselling) said to her client who was struggling with a tough conversation she was about to have with someone, “Do you think that we could practice that conversation before you have it? I can pretend to be the person you will be conversing with and you talk about the things that are bothering you. So far it has been an amazing experience both to Live Again Rwanda and student, there is more stories as our classes have not been only challenging but also fun and inspiring .  We invite you to like our Facebook Page Live Again Rwanda for daily updates .

Impact Stories

People are starting to desire healing

In a tiny church with a dirt floor in a small Rwandan village, Kelly Johnson spoke through a translator to six people who wanted to learn more about counselling.

The former Calgarian planned to spend a year in the East African country teaching Rwandans the basics of counselling so they could support and care for one another as the nation continues to deal with the lingering effects of its dark past.

But with no other long-term counselling agencies or training services in the country of 12 million people that was ravaged by genocide in 1994, Johnson discovered a deep need for her services and she’s stayed in Rwanda for much longer.

In the four years since that first meeting in a rural church, Johnson has trained nearly 100 Rwandans to be lay counsellors and she’s provided professional counselling services to countless citizens through an organization she founded called Live Again Rwanda.

“Traditionally, counselling has not been something Rwandans do,” Johnson said.

“To actually have people go and talk to someone that is a confidential service, that keeps your story secretive, away from other people,

is a new thing. As people experience this freedom and healing in their lives, this transformation, it’s a word-of-mouth culture, and more people are interested.”

Johnson, who has a master’s degree in counselling and worked as a therapist in Canada for several years, first fell in love with Rwanda in 2009, when she visited for a cross-cultural counselling course while completing her degree.

“It’s a country that’s had a horrendous history, but it also has a bright future,” she said.

She returned in 2011 to train Rwandans how to counsel one another in hopes of helping the country move beyond its tragic past.

“The places that have been devastated for generations in Rwanda, I believe they’re going to be rebuilt by Rwandans, not by expats,” Johnson said.

“If we can train them how to do counselling, they can sit with each other, listen to traumatic stories, know how to do interventions, and then the healing of a nation can start to happen.”

Johnson recently visited Calgary and other major Canadian centres to raise awareness about her work and she plans to return to Rwanda in December and stay for an undetermined amount of time.

“I have a vision for a full-on centre, a one-stop centre where anyone can come and receive both professional and lay counselling services,” she said.

“Until that comes to fruition, I don’t think I’m ready to (leave Rwanda) yet.”

In her nearly five years in the country, the 40-year-old has already accomplished a lot.

Heavy demand has transformed what started as a 10-month lay counselling course taught in Kinyarwanda, Rwanda’s official dialect, into a busy counselling and training services organization.

Alongside Amos Furaha, Johnson launched Live Again Rwanda in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali in 2012.

The organization provides the gamut of professional counselling services ranging from therapy for people with PTSD or trauma-related history, to marriage counselling.

Live Again Rwanda also offers a six-month lay counselling training course that teaches students basic counselling skills in a classroom setting every Monday night and Saturday morning.

Students, including lawyers, doctors, accountants and interested community members, go on to use their skills in their workplaces and some have started counselling rooms in their homes, churches and communities.

A new partnership between Johnson’s organization and her alma matter means students who take the six-month Live Again Rwanda course will soon receive a diploma from Providence University College and Theological Seminary in Winnipeg.

“People are starting to desire healing,” Johnson said.

“There are so many people in the country that have experienced either directly the genocide or vicariously through their parents or other family members. There’s a shift and a desire for more healing and more transformation than there ever has been.”

Read it Online here