MAP at Home – Making Meaning in Psychosocial Training

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Authors: Eric Ndushabandi, Chaste Uwihoreye and Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo.

Edited by M. Elliott

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Providing local context and meaning making are important aspects of the MAP at Home project. The ability to make meanings at a local level aids understanding of particular terminologies whilst also ensuring that definitions are determined by local contexts and not imported Western constructs. The practical realisation of this ethical stance included a range of information gathering workshops to inform the design and delivery of the project that included MAP at Home stakeholders, MAP trainers, community psychosocial workers and mental health professionals. This blog will provide an overview of two workshops conducted during November and December 2020 in Rwanda. This will include the content of the workshops, responses from participants and the learning that has taken place during the intial phase of the MAP at Home project.

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November Workshop

On Wednesday 11th  November, a one-day workshop took place with MAP at Home stakeholders, MAP youth trainers and mental health professionals. The event also served as the launch of the MAP at Home project and had three aims: 1) to provide an overview of the MAP at Home project; 2) to receive consultation regarding overarching psychosocial concepts; and 3) to introduce MAP methodology. The concepts that were discussed in the workshop included: family, home, wellbeing and mental health. Preliminary thoughts and ideas on some of the concepts developed by participants are below:

Family: A group of people who are united and have their own structure and/or leadership and share the same goals and problems. The group will share similar problems and have the same way of life. Families are not necessarily defined by geography or biological relationship.

Home: It is a place where there is a built and/or managed system and a social environment. A person can be there for a short or long time and the place can be private or public. Home could be used to describe a religious institution or an educational space.

Concepts of individual and family wellbeing were best described by the use of Kinyarwandan proverbs. Proverbs include Akuzuye umutima gasesekara ku munwa  (what is in the heart shows in the words) and ntabyera ngo de (nothing is perfect). Family wellbeing was also referred to as an individual’s freedom of expression including emotions, thoughts and behaviours in the family. It was characterised by warmth and a pure heart that welcomes everyone as well as understanding individual differences.

As well as defining concepts, the workshop also provided an opportunity to collaborate concerning the development of a framework to measure individual and community change. The workshop identified three major areas of focus when working with young people, these include behaviours, thoughts and emotions.  The workshop elaborated on these three areas and their relationship to a young person’s life including the community, relationships and the family.

With representatives from the Rwandan Education Board and the Rwandan Biomedical Centre in attendance as well as MAP Trainers, the workshop provided a space for dialogue with stakeholders. This enabled project Co-Investigators to inform stakeholders of the project whilst also enabling an opportunity for stakeholders to inform the content of the project. This is a core aspect of MAP’s approach to co-production.  In general, 38 psychosocial workers, 24 mental health professionals, 10 MAP Trainers and 5 Cultural Artists participated in the one-day workshop.

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December Training

Building on the event launch in November, MAP Trainers, Psychosocial Workers, Cultural Artists and Mental Health Professionals were invited to take part in a two-day socially distanced workshop on the 7th and 8th December as part of a series of events hosted by partnering organisation Uyisenga Ni Imanzi. The purpose of the workshop was to extend the definitions from the November event as well as experimenting with exercises that would be delivered as Unit 1 – Trust of the MAP at Home online curriculum; there will be a series of 12 Units in total. Exercises and games that were played included Big Wind Blows, A Time When My Heart Was Open, I Love Being Me, Three Image Story and Musical Dialogue. For further information about these exercises, please go to the MAP website.

Participants were introduced to both arts-based games and psychosocial exercises to demonstrate multidisciplinary approaches to the MAP at Home project. Considerations were also given to how exercises could be adapted for online platforms and uses within respective settings. For example, a participant commented on the use of Three Image Story:

‘This game has helped me to explain the importance of personal storytelling to develop the ability to understand and count stories, to practice how to listen and how to tell another person’s story.’

The introduction of psychosocial exercises was framed by the use of the following Kinyarwandan proverbs:

Proverb Translation
Mu Kinyarwanda baravugango kugera kure siko gupfa, nta kure Imana itakura umuntu Being in deep troubles is not the end of the world, there is no place where God can’t deliver you from.
iyo urugamba rushyushye ruba rugiye kurangira When the battle is at its climax, it means it is about to end.
imbuto y’umugisha yera ku giti cy’umuruho kandi igasarurwa n’uwihanganye Fruits of blessings come from the tree of hardships, and they are only reaped by the patient.
nta mvura idahita There is no rain that doesn’t end.
nta joro ridacya There is no night without dawn

After the discussion and experimentation with games and exercises, attention was focussed on the continued process of defining overarching concepts for the project. This included the terms: depression, anxiety, trauma and family conflict. There was recognition that terms such as depression and anxiety are foreign Westernised concepts that have been adopted in Rwanda and efforts were made to determine the Kinyarwandan equivalent.


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Artistic response to discussion on depression and potential Kinyarwandan titles.

Excerpts of participant responses can be seen in the table below.

Terminology Kinyarwanda Terms Responses

1.    Agahinda

2.    Akababaro

3.    Agahinda k’inkubirane


  1. Extreme loneliness that is due to loss of someone or something you love and causes a feeling that life has stopped.
  2. It is characterized by loneliness, loss of hope, and not doing usual activities, feeling useless, feeling like you are a burden to others and feeling that you have no value.





1.    Ubwoba budasanzwe

2.    Umuhangayiko ukabije

3.    Igishika


  1. Worries and thoughts that something bad may happen, which make you avoid doing some activities and can develop into extreme sadness.
  2. Living in a restless condition and losing self-confidence.


Family Conflict

1.    Amakimbirane mu muryango

2.    Amakimbirane mu ngo

3.    Kutumvikana mu muryango


  1. When people live together in a family without understanding and tolerance for each other is characterised by verbal fights, physical fights, a negative atmosphere, lack of respect and not respecting the rights of each family member.

1.    Ihungabana

2.    Ihahamuka

3.    Igikomere


1.    Changes in habits, thoughts and actions, or behaviours caused by tragic events that a person passed through or witnessed and could not accept it. A person with trauma feels unease and believes that past traumatic events could happen again.

The development of definitions is an ongoing process that will include working with young people and form part of the online psychosocial module. The training concluded with participants being briefed on MAP at Home and exploring arts-based processes. The next steps will be taking place in January and February with the delivery of Unit 1 through online and face-to-face workshops in five districts working with over 25 schools and youth psychosocial support groups including children with experience of homelessness, genocide survivors and young mothers.

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It has helped me to think deeper and deeper

The training has provided a strong foundation for the delivery of MAP at Home with context-specific and co-produced definitions. However, besides the MAP at Home project, participants stated that the introduction of reimagining terminology and arts-based approaches had supported them in their wider work. One participant stated:

‘I have not given up on new vocabulary and it has helped me to think deeper and deeper. Finding more vocabulary and training will help me in my work.’



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 This blog concludes with an artistic outcome of the training. The following poem was written by Mbabazi Ashille in response to the definitions being discussed in the workshop. Please find a segment of the poem Amatsiko below: 

There is an introduction I started

It contains various verbs 

I ask people in big groups

And in small groups 

In-depth explanation 

Of the words that are familiar

In many different languages

Yet you find that we only superficially know them

Some of them are unfathomable

Others you find them contradictory

Others tend to “gusopana” 

While others that seems foreign


Harihw’inshoza natangije

Irimo inshinga zinyuranye 

Mbariza abantu muruhame

No mu matsinda mato mato 

Ubusobanuro bw’imbitse  

Bw’amagambo asanzwe aziranyweho

Mu ndimi nyinshi zinyuranye

Ariko ugasanga tubizi uko

Bimwe ugasanga bififitse

Ibindi ugasanga binyuranye 

Ibindi bikenda gusopana 

N’ibindi bisa ninifefeko



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