April 2009 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the beginning of the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda. The whole country will be remembering and commemorating those terrible times in different ways.
There is a plant in the forest which flowers every fifteen years. Some of the people say that it is an omen that bad things will happen. It flowered in 1994 and will do so again this year.
The longer I spend in Rwanda and the better I get to know the people, the more I hear of individual stories of the unimaginable horror they have endured. Personal tragic losses, grief and privation, terror and brutality – all are touched in one way or another.
I frequently ask myself how the people have found the resilience to recover from such an ordeal. The people I know well are incredibly strong and resourceful. I am in daily touch with women who were violated during that time and are suffering HIV/Aids as a result. I meet people who are the sole survivors of a big extended family, genocide widows and orphans. I meet children who have been abandoned by their parents and left to fend for themselves.
Many are very hungry and the daily battle to survive has been a struggle.
And yet they sing and dance and smile. They yearn for the opportunity to better their lives, they want to work to change things for themselves and for their children.
Evariste write a report for me at during last year. In conclusion he wrote ‘thank you for what you are doing for us. Now we have hope’
Spare a moment or two to reflect and be happy in the knowledge of the range of achievements of the Kinamba community and that they have good cause to sing, dance and be hopeful.
On their behalf I thank you most sincerely, because all we have achieved would not have been possible without your generosity and support.
I wish you a relaxing holiday break, wherever you are and whatever you choose to do.