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