(by Beth and Sarah Joy)
Our day started with a lovely cooked breakfast, so we were fully fuelled and ready for what we were sure would be an emotional morning as we were heading to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.
What an overwhelming experience, and for those of us who have been there before it was still very hard hitting, even the second time round.
Here we learnt through videos, pictures and stories all about the terrible genocide that ripped this country apart only 24 years ago. There was so much to take in, so much detail into some of the horrors that took place, some of the crimes committed and some of the stories from the survivors and some perpetrators – we all left with much on our hearts.
These are some things that stuck out particularly to both of us:
– The terms Tutsis and Hutus originated back to 1932 and were simply to distinguish between the socio-economic groups depending on how many cows you owned! (10+ for Tutsis, Less than 10 for Hutus) That was it! And yet it led to so much devastation years down the line.
– Around 1 million Tutsis were murdered within just a few months during the genocide, which were mostly planned by the Hutus using a tick list. We read some gruesome accounts of what happened but we feel these are stories we will need to share personally at home in our own time.
– The reconciliation that has happened in this country since then is incredible. There has been a huge change here as everyone wants to be proud of their country, not living in the shadow of the genocide. Although the memories remain in their hearts, they want to move on and many offer forgiveness to the perpetrators despite the huge trauma and losses they have suffered. One quote that stood out was ‘We are all Rwandans. We are all one people. We are all one language. We all have one history.’
– We found it shocking how this happened so relatively recently and yet it is not well understood or spoken about despite occurring in a time when it would have been worldwide news. We are both only 20 and 25, but reading about how nobody seemed to go in and help, or take it seriously, makes us feel incredibly guilty. This quote sums it us ‘ The World withdrew……as a million people were slaughtered’.
Safe to say, our journey back on the bus was a quiet one.
Our afternoon was then filled with sorting out all of our lesson resources and donations for the various projects we are visiting. It got quite messy as all our luggage cases were emptied onto the lounge floor. It seems all of us have very generous friends, family and colleagues as the apartment is now covered with ginormous piles of goods! Thank you! A lot of fun was had whilst we sorted, including playing with bubbles, drawing round team members to make body puzzles and cutting out what felt like hundreds of face masks out of paper plates! We think we have all got our heads around all our different lessons and are all excited to get started with our teaching tomorrow as we head to the Juvenile Detention Centre.
Thanks for reading, we are sending lots of love home,