Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Storytelling for Peace and Empowerment

Project #
Agnes Scott College
  • Peace Grace Muhizi Umutesi
  • Sara Belbase

Storytelling for PeaceStorytelling for Peace and Empowerment

Having grown up in postgenocide Rwanda, Peace Grace Muhizi knows that many young women in her country struggle each day with discrimination and hostility. She and fellow Agnes Scott student, Sara Belbase of Nepal created a 10-day summer camp that enabled 26 high-school girls to share their personal stories, support each other while working together, and hear talks by professional Rwandan artists and entrepreneurs.

Peace Grace had previously designed a summer leadership program called “Lift Her Up,” through a student organization she founded at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in the Rwamagana district of Rwanda. This summer, ASYV donated housing, food, meeting space, and staff support for the storytelling camp. “We also chose ASYV as our project site because they specifically admit vulnerable young women who tend to be exposed to issues of gender discrimination, domestic violence, and sexual abuse,” the project leaders write.

As camp’s participants began sharing their stories, they received acknowledgment and support from peers who had had similar experiences. In the beginning, write Sara and Peace Grace, “the girls had difficulty interacting with the facilitators and their peers” — however, before long they were working in teams with others from different schools and presenting in front of large audiences.

“We always believed that a key to individual growth and development is education,” Peace Grace and Sara conclude. “But now ... we value education that not only focuses on imparting knowledge but also allows the students to contribute and participate directly in the learning process.”