May Peace Prevail on Earth and in Rwanda

March 8, 2012

The Rulindo District situated in the Northern Province of Rwanda, not far from Kigali, was the scene of devastation during the genocide. Almost two decades on the wounds of that genocide are still very much felt, and reconciliation in the area is a necessary and continuous task. In light of this, Shalom Educating for Peace (an organization in collaboration with COE) has been involved in the creation of a dialogue space where people may come to discuss their stories and find restoration. In this space five avocado trees were planted as a symbol of hope for future reconciliation. These trees are now beginning to sprout. Yesterday on the 15th January 2012, another ceremony took place in this garden to symbolically declare peace over the region and a commitment to healing and forgiveness. It took the form of a Peace Pole, joining 200 000 planted around the world, with the message: “May Peace Prevail on Earth”.

The ceremony consisted of members of the community, leaders of the district and nation, academics, members of Shalom Educating for Peace, a local peace club, and the Media. Proceedings begun with a song and dance by the peace club, made up of the youth in the region. The role of young people in the district and the nation as a whole has been pivotal in bringing about reconciliation. Most were born after the genocide and yet have grown up under its shadow. Their joyful noise that opened the ceremony captured the voice of young people in

Once introductions were then made, those present began to march from the garden to the genocide memorial. Here further words were spoken and respect was paid. It was a reminder to all present why they were here. In the adjasent library, the youth performed a play and speeches were made.

Then came the big moment! The weather had cleared just in time as everyone headed back towards the garden. A circle formed around the space in which the trees had been planted and the community began to decide where to place the pole. Almost unanimously, the centre of the garden was chosen as the spot for the Peace Pole to be planted. What proceeded is a very special event and one that has been shared around the world in over 180 countries. Rulindo joins the Allenby Bridge between Israel and Jordan, the War Museum in Vietnam, Robben Island in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and the site of the baptism of Jesus at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan as places in which Peace Poles have been placed. The list of those involved in Peace Pole ceremonies includes the likes of Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama and President Jimmy Carter.

Thus, the pole was placed in the centre of the garden declaring ‘May Peace Prevail on Earth’ in English, Swahili, French and Kinyarwanda. As Verdeja comments, paralleling reconciliation and society to the establishment of a healthy tree, “the belief in a healthy tree, strong in its foundations and confident in its branches, gives hope to the possibility of a better future”.

For more information on the inspiring work being done in Rwanda please go to:


Want more News from COE? Subscribe to the COE Newsletter: