The Significance of Indigenous Knowledge in Social Work Responses to Collective Recovery: A Rwandan Case Study

  • Régine Uwibereyeho King University of Manitoba
  • Nimo Bokore University of Carleton
  • Suzanne Dudziak St. Thomas University
Keywords: genocide, collective trauma, indigenous knowledge, social work education and practices


This paper reports a portion of findings of a large research project that sought to understand social helping and healing practices that have arisen in the post-genocide contexts that could inform social work education and practice in Rwanda. A team of Canadian and Rwandan researchers used a community-based and collaborative practice to invite local partners to share their knowledge through 4 different annual workshops. The findings indicated that the locus of helping in Rwanda is focused on community or collective practices, such gutababarana “mutual rescue,” umuganda “community work,” and ibimina “tontines.” These practices are supported by the Rwandan government policies that encourage the revitalization of traditional ways of solving socio-economic problems and rebuilding social relations. Yet, the study noted a disconnect between learned theories and local practices and locally produced materials as social work becomes professionalized in Rwanda. Implications for social work education and practice in post-colonial post-conflict societies are discussed.


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