top of page

Student Posts

DAY ONE- WHERE THE CITY OF KIGALI ALL BEGAN ‘NYAMIRAMBO’

Our first day in Kigali began at dawn, as the sun made an appearance in the sky and we were surrounded by the smell of bamboos encapsulating our room as well as the blooming of the hibiscus flowers that surrounded our hotel rooms. While this was a difficult start to the 22 of us who had just arrived from Toronto the night before, we felt the excitement to discover the city and unfold the stories of a place with so much history.

Our first stop was the Nyamirambo district. ‘Nya’ meaning a place of and ‘Mirambo’ meaning dead bodies depicts that this is a place where dead bodies can be found. This is known to be the heart of Kigali city, or one would say, the Big Apple of East Africa. This place is also the heart of talent and creativity in the city. We started off our exploration of the district at the Nyamirambo Women’s center, a Non-Governmental Organization launched in 2007 by 18 women living in Kigali. This NGO aims to tackle 3 main issues faced by women; gender-based violence, gender inequality and gender discrimination. Through this, the women have set up activities such as cooking classes, basket weaving classes, selling of crafts and tours around the Nyamirambo district where the funds raised, go back to the center to help provide salaries to the women who work as seamstresses and to provide educational facilities for women and children allowing for their emancipation. In the words of one of the 18 founding women at the center, ‘This place allows us women to feel equal in society because we can now contribute to our families. It is not about a husband having to bring home the money, but the fact that both of us can do it now and support each other to help create a better family.’ This shows a brilliant initiative coming into play in the city, to educate women, help them bring their talents to life and see their independence create a drive in the city.

 

The walking tour that we decided to go for, to support the women in the community while also getting to learn about the city, continued with an extraordinary discovery into the different aspects that made up the area. We explored the children’s library that was set up to help provide resources to youth in the district and create the idea of ‘one child, one book’. This pushes for the importance of education of the future generations in, what we learnt, was a community that did not centralize the idea of reading in its culture. We continued with an exiting trip to the milk shop, opposite the children’s library. This has milk that is supplied by the public sector dairy production and sold to a small milk shop owner, that is looking to make money and use that profit to create an occupation and life for the people in the area. It not u=only supports the owners of the franchise, but also less fortunate citizens who are encouraged to have milk as it is a great source of nutrition as well as a more affordable beverage for the average citizen. The excitement continued with an opportunity to visit a hairdressing salon with an opportunity to get a braid done in our hair and learn about the history of hairstyles and how they exemplified the culture of the Rwandan people and expressed whether one was single or married. As this continued, we got to explore the Swahili side of the town center, near the mosques, where you find vendors selling green groceries and people gathered in groups to pray, not as a divided population, but as a united forgiving one, with the aim of always living in harmony.

 

As we walked through the impeccable cobble stone streets, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful artwork in the car free zones, created to help children find an appreciation for their friends and neighbours. We ended the tour of the district with a scrumptious meal at Aminatha’s home. All the produce that goes into the cooking, is brought from the markets in Nyamirambo and she hosts a class to teach individuals how to make the delicious traditional meals before serving it to everyone at the end of the tour. The multicoloured paintings on the walls and the young children running about, playing with one and other, while people gather around to enjoy a meal together showed us the beauty of this town held up by one thing, ‘togetherness’. It was not just a community filled with creative minds and innovative individuals, it was a home to the people of Kigali, and everyone here was equal. No class, ethnicity, religion, age, or gender was above another. It is the heart of Kigali, and what better way to begin a tour of a city, than to explore the core itself.

A photo of vendors selling their produce to customers at the Nyamirambo markets where people buy daily necessities for two meals, the lunch and dinner for the day.

A picture taken of the students during the walking tour conducted by Nyamirambo Women’s Center.

DAY TWO- Rebero Memorial, University of Rwanda, Lakeside Fish Farm, and Ntarama Memorial

DAY THREE- Dutch Ambassador, COPORWA NGO, The Reconciliation Village, The Women Opportunity Center

The Dutch Ambassador:

 

 

We visited the Netherlands Ambassador’s residence on May 9th in Kigali City. We had the opportunity to meet the Dutch ambassador and the first councilor of the embassy at their residence. This visit aimed to strengthen our understanding of the international community’s involvement post-genocide in Rwanda. We are grateful for the Dutch embassy for providing us this opportunity to learn more about their work. We had the opportunity to ask questions about the embassy’s work and projects that they have undertaken so far. The Dutch embassy opened for the first time in Rwanda after the genocide in 1994 which is now more focused on trade and investment in Rwanda. Specifically, Dutch businesses are interested in digitalization in Rwanda. Moreover, the Dutch government collaborates with community organizations and NGOs in Rwanda that promotes reconciliation efforts. For example, the Dutch Embassy supports Social Therapy NGOs and programs that bring together all parties to promote reconciliation across the country.

COPORWA NGO:

 

 

Community of Potters of Rwanda (COPORWA) is a nongovernmental organization that advocates for the rights of indigenous people in Rwanda since 2007. It has 10 paid staff members and several volunteers. We had the opportunity to meet the head office of the NGO in Kigali and have a discussion with staff members about their work and impact. COPORWA aims to support its beneficiaries in education, health, gender equality and economic empowerment sectors. COPORWA works closely with the government of Rwanda, the Network of Indigenous People in Africa and international NGOs to promote indigenous peoples rights and to ensure that they are engaged in decision making processes. We were impressed by COPORWA’s commitment towards supporting their communities. For example, even if the NGO doesn’t receive enough fundings they volunteer their time and resources for supporting their fellow citizens. COPORWA is consisted of around 80% indigenous or marginalized people of Rwanda so they best know the needs and challenges their communities face.

The Women Opportunity Center:

 

 

We arrived at the Women’s Opportunity Center’s eco-lodge and was greeted and brought to our rooms. Located in the Kayonza area, Women’s Opportunity Center provides an opportunity for women who were effected by the genocide to seek empowering and fulfilling work opportunities. The government provided the hectare of land as a means to generate income for women who were facing poverty and other barriers. By learning these skills they are able to be more self-sustainable. The eco-lodge provided the groups with comfortable single and bunk beds, with an attached bathroom. The facility had incredible tent infrastructure with a dining area. As we relaxed and settled into the space, we sat down at the dining area and discussed the day and had some really fun conversations among peers. The women who work there were preparing dishes that smelt delicious. We were served grilled chicken, plantains, white rice, fires, peas and carrots, and pasta salad. The cooks were all friendly and kind, which made the environment so welcoming. The sleeping situation was comfortable and personable.  
 

Akagera National Park

Today we visited Akagera National Park. Our day began early, as we woke up at 4 a.m., took breakfast to go, and hopped on the bus to head to the park. While exhausting, this early start time would pay off later in the day as we would get to see many animals before they retreated from the mid-day heat. After a short drive, we arrived at the park and began our drive. Soon, the forest and shrubland gave way to a vast expanse of grassland flanked by tall, lush mountains.

 

The first animal that we spotted was a zebra, although we also spotted a giraffe and a large herd of wildebeest in the distance:

pic1.PNG
pic2.PNG

After driving around the grassland, we headed up into the mountains, driving along steep, winding dirt roads, as we all kept our eyes peeled for any signs of movement. As we drove, we spotted a Masai Giraffe standing tall and majestically in a field only a short distance away.

pic1.PNG

Next, we drove along a mountain ridge which provided stunning vistas overlooking several large lakes within Akagera National Park. We then continued our drive down the ridge, and then followed the roads along the lakeshore. As we began our return to the main gates, we came

across a leopard, laying down on the roadside, only ten feet away from our bus. Getting up close and personal with such a powerful predator was an unforgettable experience.

pic1.PNG

Throughout the game drive, our guide told us about the plants and animals we were seeing, as well as stories of how the genocide impacted the national park. More specifically, he told us about how genocidal acts within the park caused many animals to flee into the bordering country of Tanzania, and how the genocide reduced the availability of park rangers leading to increased poaching which decimated rhino and elephant populations within the park. At noon, after around 4 hours of spotting animals around the park, we returned to the café, before heading off to the headquarters for our behind the scenes tour.

 

 

After spending an exhilarating day on the safari in Akagera National Park, we were fortunate enough to participate in a behind the scenes tour of the facility. We were able to meet with one of the parks employees and he informed us of what goes on behind the scenes, from learning about the history of the park, to their K-9 unit and many more. Additionally, we were able to get a behind the scenes look in their control room and all the logistics of how the park functions. This included learning about poachers, the role of the park rangers and how they maintain to keep all the animals in tact and safe. We were fortunate enough to learn a bit more in depth about their K-9 unit and what it entailed. This featured a demonstration of their K-9 unit through an obstacle course

pic1.PNG

May 11 Post

Sela Caldwell 

 

         We went to SURF, an organisation that works with survivors of the genocide, especially those who have suffered from sexual abuse. SURF was founded in 1997. We talked about how SURF had set up multiple genocide memorials around Rwanda. They also started multiple clinics that helped women to go to counselling, seek help for PTSD and trauma, and get treated for HIV that many unfortunately contracted from rape. Many years later, the government took over all clinics. Another result of the genocide was the suffering of all the children born from rape. Their mothers frequently couldn’t raise them because of the reminder of how they were conceived, and it was difficult growing up with the knowledge f who their fathers were. We learned about the programs that SURF leads to help youth not feel shame or trans-generational trauma that is given to them through their parents from learning about who their fathers were and how they were conceived. There are education programs that fund these childrens education, working through non-governmental organisations or donors. A way this is done is through survivors writing a book about their experiences and readers sponsoring childrens education. There are youth camps if children don’t enjoy their education, and they learn how to make their own income. Many of them repair relationships with their mothers and learn conflict resolution skills, as well. SURF explained that while it can be difficult for youth especially facing unemployment and other issues, the programs ensure they feel a community and are supported.

 

We also went to the Republic of Rwanda Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement. We learned about how the ministry works with helping those who were affected most by the genocide and who are now the most vulnerable, which they determine through their income. They mentioned that in Rwandas history, the colonial rulers didn’t want people to be  educated through university, and only wanted citizens to be assistants to them. They taught myths of stereotypes in socio-economic groups that were falsely built into being ethnic groups before the genocide. Now after the genocide, the issue of genocide denial is very relevant. They said they focused on national unity and for citizens to act like Rwandans, not as Hutus or Tutsis. I was really interested in the education aspect, and it was valuable to learn that the Itorero school system, what historically was used, was re established in 2007. It teaches children about the importance of Rwanda’s history, including the genocide, and how they can ensure it doesn’t happen again through awareness of conflict and promoting unity and reconciliation.

 

We went to Never Again Rwanda, an NGO that helps reconciliation in Rwanda through preventing and managing conflict. It was founded in 2002 after three students saw hate messages at school, and realised a change was needed before the threats of revenge or encouragement of genocide ideology escalated further. They identify the needs of the public through government research and first hand experience of living in Kigali and observing what the population does. The government research is heavily reviewed to ensure there is no bias. They explained that partnership with a government is necessary for large businesses. Some of their funds come from the government, and others come from international donors. They explained that in education, they work with local secondary and primary schools to establish clubs in their schools. They work with both local and international universities, like Huron, to spread awareness of the genocide and the process of reconciliation. They did an excellent job at outlining that in talking to younger generations, they explained that just because they weren’t born, doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by the genocide. The inter generational trauma that SURF mentioned is very relevant, and the ideology from their parents, no matter which side of history they were on, can affect them.

 

At dinner, Dr Dennis, a member of the Gacaca courts who had years of experience in the process of justice, talked to us about his experience. He said that the Gacaca courts were set up to reveal the truth of the genocide, and how it was meticulously planned on multiple levels. He talked about how people would confess to crimes they didn’t commit, and we discussed the idea of innocent until proven guilty. There was the idea of are you going to remove the presumption of innocence once they say they are guilty? In in the constitution, you must be trialed and sentenced by a competent court. It was a very interesting talk and hearing his stories was incredibly valuable.

 

We went to a market today before returning my to our hotel, as well. It was fun to buy souvenirs for friends and family back home, and I know I will be so grateful to take back something that uniquely reminds me of Rwanda. The bus was filled with interesting discussions, various stories and jokes, and passing around granola bars. Today was very very busy but an incredible experience, which reflects the entire trip so far. So grateful for those who took the time to talk to us and share their experience. 

 

Kate and Mathieu

Today we began our day with breakfast at GNGH before heading to visit with Survivor’s Fund (SURF), an organization in Kigali established in 1997. SURF has supported over 10,000 survivors of the genocide as well as many of their children. SURF works in partnership with other survivor led organizations including AVEGA, AERG, GAERG, Kanyarwanda, and Solace Ministries. Originally, SURF worked to support orphans and widows of the genocide, many of these widows were women who had experienced sexual assault during the genocide and were living with HIV/AIDS or had children conceived by rape. Our speaker is a counsellor of social work explained how SURF community counselling and SURF clinic supported these women and their kids. In the years since SURF has created many other programs; helping survivors return to secondary school or university, creating youth camps for children reckoning with how they’d been conceived, and vocational training for youth. SURF has faced some recent challenges, some of the houses SURF built for genocide survivors are now older and residents are asking for them to be repaired and rebuilt, and SURF had to problem solve during the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdown orders brought back many memories of the genocide for survivors when they were also told to stay at home and were killed there. In response, SURF created a helpline to offer support which has served over 4000 people. 

 

After SURF, we had the incredible opportunity to visit the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE). The ministry was created in 2021 to preserve historical memory, reinforce national unity, and promote citizenship education, combining the goals of four former national commissions related to the genocide and survivors' fund. We arrived at an incredible building and were brought to a conference room to hear from two speakers on peacebuilding and denial. Our first speaker, Valens, discussed peacebuilding and began by giving us a comprehensive overview of Rwandan history, pre-colonial, colonial, leading up to the genocide and following it. After the genocide, Valens explained how Rwanda had experienced unimaginable destruction, but because of the scale of the tragedy and number of perpetrators it was inevitable that survivors and perpetrators would have to live together. It was necessary that the unity and reconciliation process began- despite high levels of anger, suspicion, and resentment, justice, truth, and healing had to be sought. In response, the Gacaca courts were created, the constitution of Rwanda was revised, ethnicity was removed from IDs, and the death penalty was abolished. The Gacaca courts (a traditional, community-based approach to justice) were able to quickly try many suspects from the genocide, more efficiently than traditional courts, achieving in 10 years what would have taken classical courts 100 and convicting over 1.6 million. The Rwandan model of peacebuilding emphasizes national identity rather than ethnic identity, it is inspired by Rwandan culture and values and prioritized homegrown solutions. We also heard from another speaker about the issue of genocide denial and how it occurred before, during and after the genocide- within Rwanda and abroad. We learned the channels through which genocide has been denied; in media, by foreign governments/international community, by foreign experts and authors, by Rwandan dissidents and by organizations like the FLDR. We learned about the strategies the Rwandan government has implemented to fight genocide denial including creating laws to punish public genocide denial and minimization, educating the public, cultural exchange, memory preservation and diplomatic relations with both foreign governments and the Rwandan diaspora (also called "the sixth province"). Genocide denial is still a problem that has deadly consequences, particularly when genocidal ideology is exported like in the DRC presently and our visit to the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement deepened our understanding of this problem and its consequences. 

 

After leaving the ministry we went to the head office of Never Again Rwanda, a peace building organization that was started in 2002 by three students at the University of Rwanda in response to instances of hate speech. These students realized that to make “never again” a reality, youth needed to be empowered and educated, and since then Never Again has worked to encourage peacebuilding in communities and done research in these areas using a participatory action approach. They have strategic partnerships with government institutions, international organizations, and donors. They have crated youth camps and work within schools and universities through their affiliated clubs and associations. They told us that even though young people today did not experience genocide firsthand, they still feel the effects of it, and some have internalized genocidal ideology which must be countered by teaching critical thinking skills. The speakers at Never Again answered our many questions very thoroughly and it was really interesting to hear about a program that works directly to support Rwandan youth. 

 

To continue with our day’s activities, we spent the afternoon exploring the city of Kigali and experiencing the real day to day life of city. Our first stop was the mall where members bought food, snacks. The mall was a combination of stores and boutiques held items ranging from electronics to unique flavours of snacks. The group made the collective decision to spend less time in this mall for more time at the local craft marketplace. This marketplace held locally made unique items claimed to be locally made. Each stand looked like the one pictured above and held around 50 of these stands each selling wood carvings, stone items, keychains, coffee, clothes, and postcards. With ourselves and the sellers it was a tight space and really contributed to the unique atmosphere and culture that Rwanda has. Items were haggled and bought, some of us were more successful at this than others :)

 

Later in the evening we listened to a talk from Denis Bikesha, an administrator for the gacaca courts. This was a fascinating talk about how the gacaca courts were operated and the social effects of them. Denis was an expert of this important aspect of the genocide and taught us a lot. After dinner and another long day everyone made their way to bed in anticipation of what the next day will bring. 

Last Day of Rwanda

Our last day in Rwanda we woke to a beautiful sunny day and reflected on how fortunate we were to get consistently good weather. We had our shared breakfast of fresh fruits and pancakes before hopping on the bus to The Museum For Campaign Against Genocide located near the Rwandan Senate in Kigali.

 

 The building of the museum itself was a former hotel which 600 Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) soldiers created a makeshift base to protect RPF politicians involved in the signing and implementation of the Arusha Peace Accord. In the first days of the Genocide against the Tutsi, then RPF general (now president) Paul Kagame ordered RPF troops to save Tutsi civilians and put an end to the Genocide. RPF soldiers used the hotel as a central point to send out military companies to complete this mission.

 

 On an hour and a half walking tour, we learned about how the Genocide started and the RPF strategic plan to stop the Genocide. We saw detailed maps and models of troop deployments as well as rooms and battlements the RPF used to treat the wounded and secure the building. We also saw the unpatched holes left by shelling to give a more immersive experience.

 

After the museum we went back to Good News Guest House to pack our bags and complete our journals. Before heading to the Kigali airport, we had a wonderful BBQ under the Rwandan sun to complete our trip!

 

Here are some pictures as well. No pictures were allowed in the building so I just got some outside.

20230514_113154 (1).jpg
20230514_113728 (1).jpg

May 13th Blog Post

This morning we woke up to the sound of the birds beside. Alongside the gorgeous view of Lake Kivu we ate our breakfast, sipped our coffee and got ready for another beautiful day in Rwanda. We hopped on the bus at 8:30am for the 5 hour drive back to Kigali. On the way back, we made a few stops. The first was at a waterfall, which had a beautiful overlook where we all took lots of pictures.

Image (3).jpeg

The second stop we made was at the Nyange Genocide Memorial. Although we remain in the bus during our visit to the Nyange community, we learned the story of the how thousands of refugees seeking refuge in a church during the genocide were physically bulldozed. The church collapsed under the attack of militia rebels in tractors. Many people sought refuge in churches as they were seen as safe from violence and under the protection of God. Unfortunately, many priests actually contributed to mass attacks on groups in churches.

 

From the memorial site, a school was visible standing alone on a hill. We were told the story of how the children from this school stood up to discrimination. In 1997, three years after the genocide ended, a group of Hutu militia entered this school and asked students to separate themselves in Hutu and Tutsi. The students refused stating that: “We are all Rwandans.” In response, the militia-men shot at this group and killed six students and injuring many others. These students were named as national heroes for fighting against discrimination between the Tutsis and Hutus. This story showed us that the violence experienced in Rwanda is not isolated to the 100 day genocide period that many commonly associate it with: the violence started much earlier and also did not entirely end in 1994.

 

After this visit, we hit the road for the journey back to Kigali, stopping for lunch at the Splendid Hotel, where we ate a lovely buffet and then continued our beautiful drive back to Kigali. Back in Kigali we visited the Joy and Community Center and Vocational School. Our host at Good News Guest House, Ben, founded founded Good News International which sponsors 34 communities around Rwanda including the Joy Community and Vocational Center. The mission of this organization is to provide under-served communities with resources and opportunities that create prosperous communities within Rwanda and build skills within youth. The purpose for this centre is to provide an area for joy and empowerment for particularly the youth and women of this community. It’s a place for them to gather and learn and experience community. We toured welding and sewing workshops in the vocational school and met the students who were the beneficiaries of these programs. These classes were set up for youth whose parents could not afford to pay school fees. These classes provide opportunities for youth to become economically independent and productive members of society. The programs run by Good News typically last six months and provide a base-level of skills that allows students to get jobs and internships which will hopefully provide further opportunities for vocational development.

 

After this tour we played a game of soccer with the class of welding students. They were much better players than we were but we had fun playing all the same. They were so welcoming to our group and we really felt like part of their community. The energy on the field and the surrounding was so lovely and uplifting. After the game, we all gathered around with members of the community to watch them perform a traditional dance for us. Jamie also sang a beautiful song for them as our way to share a bit of our culture with them as well. Truly such a special way to spend our final afternoon!

Finally, we went for a nice dinner at Pili Pili Restaurant to celebrate our last evening and had a special guest join us, Patience —— A genocide survivor. Patience grew up in a wealthy neighborhood in Kigali as the son of a diplomat. He studied in an international school and learned French before his native tongue of Kinyarwanda. During the genocide him and his family fled to the Border city of Gisenyi. Gisenyi is along the shores of Lake Kivu and beside the Congolese city of Goma. Patience was a Hutu, however some of his family members were Tutsi. During the genocide his uncle hid Tutsis from the Hutu Militia. The militia found that they were hinding Tutsis and killed Patience’s Uncle. Patience then escape Rwanda and lived in in Goma, Congo. In Goma,  his mother needed a life saving surgery. There was not adequate medical services and eventually his mother passed away. Eventually he left the city  to continue his secondary studies. However, he had to live in the bush in Congo to escape the way. He was very sick from malaria living in the Congolese Bush. One Day he happened upon a farm. The farmer took pity on him and offered him food. He then went to church one day and stood up to recite a bible verse. He did it in French. His ability to speak French led him to a teaching role in the community. Eventually Hutu rebels attempted to recruit him to their group, but he politely declined. His family was looking for him and found him and he moved back to Rwanda from the Congo. There, he found out that he ended up passing his exams and was able to continue to university. Today Patience is an Import/Exporter of Meat between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Overall today was such a wonderful mix of fascinating conversations, endless laughs, and unforgettable memories! We could not have asked for a more special final full day for our trip.

Rebero Memorial:   

This memorial site was originally meant to be a burial site for both politicians and ordinary people. While this memorial still contains the graves of 3500 hundred victims, it has present-day become reserved for high level politicians who were killed during the genocide for their moderate position and resistance to the Hutu genocide such as the former Prime Minister. This memorial is unique from others, as it is meant to represent the idea of patriotism and political resistance. In other words, it is supposed to demonstrate how love for one’s country can give a person the strength to resist genocidal acts. As the custodians of the grounds will tell you, the politicians who were killed were relatively young, aged between 34-56. They had plenty of life left to live but chose to sacrifice their future and lives for the benefit of their country and to protect the innocent. The politicians buried here are meant to embody patriotism and power and can serve as a powerful reminder and precedence builder for the Rwandan public to stand against discrimination.   

 

 

University of Rwanda:    

A speaker at the university was a representative from the Rwandan Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD), a non-governmental organizational (NGO) based in Rwanda. The focus of her talk was on the important role that the RISD has taken on to promote local, national, and even international land issues, empowering civil society and the poor since 1999. Although other NGO’s work to resolve enduring issues in post-genocide Rwanda, the RISD has focused solely on the role of land as a tool to promote and prevent genocide. Through this doctrine, it has been able to make a more impactful difference. However, issues remain in terms of facilitating research opportunities due to inconsistent funding which allows them to engage with the University of Rwanda. Ultimately, the RISD has accumulated a highly positive reputation and credibility both domestically and internationally. This has given them access to information, research and policy makers. Using their own research and that from other universities, the RISD is able to provide policy recommendations to governments due to their unique and extensive connections.   

 

 

Another university speaker emphasized the importance of remembering the genocide. This concept was initially somewhat contested due to fear that it may provoke further trauma or incite future genocidal acts. However, remembrance and acknowledgement are inextricably linked to the reconciliation process. Ultimately, remembering the genocide is necessary as it educates future generations, paves the way to justice, and informs national policy which may prevent future genocides. The university also provides information regarding the value of gacaca trials in individualizing the process of guilt acceptance and reconciliation. Through using a local community-based approach, gacaca makes perpetrators of genocide realize their own direct involvement rather than ambiguously blaming Hutus as a group. This is critical for encouraging reconciliation as it creates individual reflection and prevents perpetrators from denying their own guilt by hiding within the larger group of killers.   

 

 

Lakeside Fish Farm:   

We visited a farm which was entirely self-sufficient, relying on the crops and animals they raised. Farmed animals included Tilapia, Guinea pigs, goats, pigs, cows, chicken, and ducks. The excess hatchlings and eggs of Tilapia are sold to other farms and are one of five farms in the entire country which do this. Visitors are greeted with a delicious plate of Tilapia and vegetables produced on the farm.   

Ntarama Memorial:   

 

 

A memorial built around church grounds in Southern Rwanda where 3000 Tutsi victims were massacred on April 14th, 1994. Victims fled here believing they would be safe from persecution as killers would not perpetrate genocide in this holy place. However, this was unfortunately not the case. The Ntarama memorial is different than others, in terms of its emotional impact. Visitors are shown ominous objects including human bones and skulls, clothes and shoes of victims, and even remaining blood splattered on the walls. Out of all the memorials visited to this point, this one was the most emotionally provocative, with some members of the group crying afterwards. While other memorials like Ribero worked to idealize political moderates and encourage heroic resistance to genocide, Ntarama reminds visitors of the gruesome acts which took place and the horrors of genocide when discrimination is allowed to take root.   

The Reconciliation Village:

 

After the drive we got the village where many people were killed. Here. we were guided by Albert, who’s family was killed during that attack. He was a teenager when he and his family ran toward the church to hide, thinking that it is a safe haven as the place god, so the perpetrator would not attack it. Albert was explaining how perpetrators came and started to throw rocks and shoot Tutsis whenever they were able to, and also destroy many parts of the church. His parents were killed in front of his eyes. Although Albert told this tragedy too many times, his eyes were full of tears. After that Albert took us to the organization that he founded that called Peace and Education Initiative. The NGO is meant to be a peace building space for the village, consulting for impacted people, and provide social and financial support for the survivors. At the Organization there were people waiting for us. After a moment we realized that some of them are former perpetrators. Some of the survivors were raped and got pregnant, having lived with their new kid while facing all of life’s difficulties. Other survivors had to live alone because her family got killed. Meanwhile, some of the perpetrators had participated in killing some of survivor’s families like in Albert’s case.  For most of the students, that was first seeing a killer. The gathering was very emotional for the students, and some of them started crying. Being close to survivors and  former perpetrators asking the group for forgiveness shows how difficult the reconciliation, but shows that it is possible.

bottom of page