CISR Donates 200 Mobile Phones to Peer-support Workers

by Cameron Macauley [CISR] - view pdf

On 11 June 2012, the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University donated 200 mobile phones to its partner organization IBUKA (“Never Forget” in Kinyarwanda), the largest support network for genocide survivors in Rwanda. Since 2009, IBUKA has operated a peer-support program for genocide survivors in Rwanda who suffer the psychological effects from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. More than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during the genocide between 6 April and mid-July 1994. Many more died in refugee camps during the following months.1

Newly trained peer-support workers hold their new phones.Photo courtesy of CISR.Newly trained peer-support workers hold their new phones.
Photo courtesy of CISR.

IBUKA trains genocide survivors to provide psychosocial support to traumatized survivors and their families in some 30 Rwandan communities. For these peer-support workers, communication is essential in order to obtain guidance and support from psychologists and program administrators. The phones help IBUKA staff handle emergencies such as suicide attempts and they enable peer-support workers to maintain contact with survivors over a wide geographic area.

In July 2012 IBUKA expanded its program from 25 to 65 peer-support workers with technical assistance from CISR. Since 2010, CISR has hosted five peer-support training workshops in Rwanda, including a training of trainers and a peer-support training for Rwandan psychologists and counselors. Participants engaged in role-play and problem-solving exercises, as well as peer-support practice sessions. They were taught specific techniques of peer counseling, such as active listening and interpretive questioning. All training materials were in Rwanda’s native language, Kinyarwanda. In addition to listening and questioning skills, the peer-support workers received technical guidance on monitoring and evaluating participants’ progress.

“This support has been enormously useful for us to provide high-quality psychosocial services,” said Janvier Forongo, executive secretary of IBUKA. “With CISR’s assistance, IBUKA is rapidly becoming one of the foremost trauma survivor support programs in Africa. The profound level of damage inflicted by the genocide requires expertise in trauma rehabilitation, and we thank CISR for helping us respond effectively.”

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation funded the trainings, providing a US$100,000 grant to CISR to focus specifically on East Africa. Of the total grant, $33,000 funded peer-support training in Rwanda and $72,000 funded peer-support programs in Uganda and Burundi. The remaining $5,000 of the grant bought the 200 mobile phones donated to IBUKA. globe



Cameron MacauleyCameron Macauley, MPH, joined CISR in August 2010 as its peer support and trauma rehabilitation specialist. He holds a Master of Public Health as well as degrees in anthropology and psychology, and became a physician assistant in 1983. He has worked in a refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border, at a district hospital in Sumatra, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea- Bissau, in Mozambique where he taught trauma surgery for landmine injuries, in an immunization program in Angola and in a malaria-control program in Brazil. Between 2005 and 2010, he taught mental health courses for Survivor Corps in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Jordan and Vietnam.

Contact Information

Cameron Macauley, MPH
Peer Support and Trauma
Rehabilitation Specialist
Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University
MSC 4902
Harrisonburg, VA 22807 / USA
Tel: +1 540 568 4941



  1. “Timeline: 100 days of genocide.” BBC News. Accessed
    12 September 2012.