For the past years, OPROMAMER members have engaged the issues of Mental Health such as stigma in Rwanda through building Partnerships, strengthening Friendships among Peers.
We form Peer gatherings in our respective Communities with the intention of creating families that we belong into. We understand that belonging is important for our survival and when we don’t belong, we’re weak to defend ourselves, the values, the dreams we have. Together, we achieve our wishes that the general society wouldn’t have supported us in. OPROMAMER formed small support groups at village level to provide a possibility for us to belong and Monthly village level meetings in which we listen to one another and offer emotional support happen. We dance together, share a harvest and advise a peer on the challenge they are facing.
We educate one another and sometimes invite professionals to psycho-educate us on the mental health difficulties and care but much is learned from our lived experiences.
It is important that Peers in Mental Health are empowered socio-economically, we carry-out savings and credit with each member contributing to the fund. Savings help members in achieving the most fundamental aspect of life “economic independence” by paying health insurance, school fees and availing food. Self-esteem is built and a feeling of worthiness opens the doors to healing. Peers also engage in income generating activities such as cultivation, Bee keeping, goat rearing, among others.
We understand that Peer gatherings alone cannot solve challenges Mental Health Peers experience on a day-to-day basis. Advocacy for Peers is therefore important, this is done through meeting with stakeholders, government institutions to ensure that policies developed seek to protect people with psychosocial disability and are non-discriminatory. Follow-up is also made to ensure the existing policies are put into practice. Community awareness campaigns about Mental Health are carried out regularly both with families and the larger communities to ensure that people with mental health and psychosocial disabilities are well cared off without discrimination and abuse.