Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: April 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Day of Remembrance: Rwanda Part III

Seventeen years ago today, evil descended over a nation with a horrifying intensity. Neighbors betrayed neighbors. Friends brutally murdered friends. Children hid in terror as feared for their lives. As I listened to the stories of those who survived the genocide, I found myself heartbroken, time and time again.

We visited the National Genocide Museum in Kigali. The sights and images I saw will forever be etched in my memory. What devastated me the most was the section dedicated to the children who died during the genocide. As I looked at photographs, into the faces of these children and read about the atrocities they encountered, I couldn’t stop the tears. The rebels attempted to exterminate the Tutsis by wiping out the younger generation.

As I read about these kids, I kept thinking of the children I know that are the same age. It was too much for me and I had to flee this section to cry. I couldn’t handle the weight of what had happened. In an attempt to help you understand why Rwanda continues to grieve seventeen after the genocide officially ended, I am going to share with you about a few of these children. I will warn you, this is not for the faint-hearted. My heart breaks even now as I recount these atrocities.

Murengezi, Age 12

Favorite Sport: Swimming

Favorite Drink: Milk and Fanta

Best Friend: Her Older Sister

Cause of death: Hacked by Machete

Bernardin, Age 17

Favorite Sport: Football

Favorite Drink: Tea

Favorite Food: Rice

Cause of death: Hacked by Machete at Church

Fabrice, Age 8

Favorite Sport: Swimming

Best Friend: His Mom

Cause of death: Bludgeoned with a club

Ariane, Age 4

Favorite Food: Cake

Favorite Drink: Milk

Enjoyed: Singing and Dancing

Cause of death: Stabbed in her eyes and in the head

Aurore, Age 2

Favorite Drink: Cow’s Milk

Favorite Game: Hide and Seek

Cause of death: Burnt alive in the Chapel

Sisters Ages 6 and 7 died when a grenade was thrown into their shower.

One ten year old said, “I ran like some sort of animal. I had to eat twigs from the trees. I saw the corpses of my relatives on the hills. Sometimes I would stumble upon someone who had been hacked with a machete but was still breathing.”

I could go on and on and tell you about the numbers of babies hacked in their mother’s arms, or even yet, in the mother’s womb. These are just a glimpse into Rwanda’s past. Today, Rwanda grieves. It not only grieves the loss of lives, but also the loss of innocence. Men and women who participated in such crimes are haunted by guilt and shame. How can they ever forgive themselves? How does a nation move forward?

One thing I learned from the Rwandans is that they are resilient. They are strong and are striving to walk through their pain into a future of hope. Please join me in praying for the people of Rwanda as they gather today to remember. Pray that they will find hope and peace.