When Callixte was released from prison in 2007, he and Andrew were ready to do the hard work of reconciliation.
During the 13 years Callixte was jailed, he began to heal, Marcella says. “My husband changed a lot in prison. He is an artist. The songs he sang and performed affected him. He went through reconciliation workshops. At the end he felt, ‘What happened happened. I need to live a new life.’ ”
Callixte was released from prison in 2007. He came back to the village and was Andrew’s neighbor once again. With their families involved in World Vision’s programs that emphasized reconciliation, the stage was set for their reunification. But for Andrew and Callixte, the process was an arduous one.
Appropriately, the light of forgiveness shined on the families in church. “We went to church and heard the pastor preach,” says Marcella. “One day we were all at the same service. It was as if the pastor was talking to us. He looked right into our hearts. After church we said, ‘We have got to talk.’ In 2010, we got back together. Since then, we have been close.”
“Our children saw us change,” says Madrine. They watched their parents’ hatred turn into friendship. Today, their sons, Jean Bosco and Manuel, both 19, are like brothers. “He’s my best friend in life,” Manuel says of Jean Bosco.
A World Vision project featuring cows and coffee cemented the relationship between Andrew and Callixte. Villagers were given cows to raise for milk and fertilizer. The fertilizer was used to grow coffee plants. Villagers combined their plots to create bigger farms on which to grow the coffee. In every group were genocide perpetrators and survivors so that World Vision would continue to talk through the issues of healing and reconciliation.
The men, who are in a group called Good Coffee, are looking forward to their first coffee harvest. They also are starting a side business with cows, walking together to purchase cows from the market and reselling them for a profit.
Cows are now just cows, says Callixte. They symbolize nothing but opportunity. “Cows are no longer seen as a way of dividing social classes of people.”
Today, Andrew and Callixte go to prisons together, visiting genocide perpetrators who are still incarcerated and talking with them about reconciliation. Learning to forgive has made all the difference for the two friends and their families. “It has set us free, me and him,” says Andew. “It has set our families free.”