PAU’s Work in Rwanda and What is Coming in 2014

January 2, 2014

Article from the January 2014 Edition of Global Mental Health Newsletter

Dr. Bill Froming is trained as a personality and social psychologist and one of his interests over the years has been the Holocaust. The events that have been documented demanded explanations and he felt that social psychology could provide substantial insight into how these events occurred.

In 2004 he went to Rwanda for the first time. Rwanda experienced a genocide in 1994 when 800,000 were killed in 100 days. Seeing a second episode of genocide was both emotionally powerful and also instructive because the parallels between the two genocides could be observed. In the intervening 10 years he, along with Dr. Karen Froming, have been to Rwanda many times. They have taught at the National University of Rwanda, presented at conferences, conducted workshops, befriended many people, taken PAU students for visits, and many other things.

PAU has many exciting projects in development in Rwanda. We are in Rwanda because Mental Health concerns are a serious public health crisis impacting day to day life for the people. A Palo Alto University team led by Bill Froming and accompanied by Karen Froming and PAU’s Fulbright Senior Specialist Helena Young returned from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda in September 2013 with much to report. In addition to submitting grants to APA and the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Young designed a lengthy survey of clinical practices, client characteristics and language used in therapy in Rwanda in collaboration with Ibuka (the survivor’s group) District counselors, psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists working in Rwanda, Finally, it is well worth noting that Dr. Helena Young, Associate Faculty at PAU, an expert in crisis and trauma counseling, has received a Fulbright Fellowship to pilot a new program in Rwanda. In her trips to Rwanda, Dr. Young has partnered to bring a contextually relevant counseling training program to Rwanda in hopes of strengthening the healing process of a generation of genocide and trauma victims, and the Fulbright Fellowship will assist her in piloting this program in Rwanda. Last year Dr. Bill Froming was honored to speak at the 19th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsis in Washington D.C. The video can be viewed below. Dr. Karen Froming also spoke and her video presentation can be found below.

In February there will be a conference in San Francisco titled Wisdom 2.0. There will be several speakers from Rwanda at the conference and there will be other talks at local institutions (e.g., Stanford, Commonwealth Club). We are also expecting to have a women’s drumming troupe coming to perform. They have been featured recently in a movie entitled Sweet Dreams. We expect they will also perform at PAU. Perhaps most exciting to PAU, our team has been meeting with the Rwandan Community of California in preparation for the PAU-Stanford co-sponsored 20th Commemoration event, to take place in Palo Alto, May 15-18, 2014. The Commemoration itself will be held on Saturday, May 17th. There will be other events on Thursday-Sunday surrounding the Commemoration. We will have more information about it as we finalize arrangements. For now, save the dates on your calendar. We will also have a reading group to provide backgroundtothegenocide. To close, there will be several events coming this year that you might be interested in. We hope you will join us and learn more about Rwanda, its history and its people.


Videos of Dr. Bill Froming and Dr. Karen Froming at the 19th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Washington, D.C.