This weekend was an incredibly moving one. I visited the Rwandan Genocide Memorial for the first time. The memorial is a beautiful building on the outskirts of Kigali. I went on Sunday, June 23rd with my friends and fellow interns Ashley and Eric. We opted not to pay the 20 dollars for an audio-guided tour, instead we wandered through the exhibits ourselves and let Eric be our guide.
Eric grew up in Kigali, but he had never been inside the Genocide Museum. He said that the history of the genocide is part of the curriculum in school in Rwanda, and most schools take field trips to the memorial grounds.
This year is a very special year for the Rwandan people. It is the 25th anniversary of the Genocide.
It was incredibly harrowing to read about how the Genocide began- how neighbors and even families turned against each other. The exhibit went into detail about how quickly the killings were. People were trained to kill hundreds within a matter or minutes. Over 800,000 people were killed during a 100 day period in 1994.
The hardest part of the going through the museum was the children’s room. There are pictures of children of all ages. There is a large plaque in front of each picture which displays each child’s name, favorite activity, favorite food, and cause of death. All of the causes of death were incredibly brutal, ranging from “hacked with a machete” and “shot between the eyes.”
Even more incredible than any of the statistics is the forgiveness of the Rwandan people. Ashley and I kept marveling at each other how the people were able to overcome such a tragedy. I don’t think I could ever do what the Rwandan people have done. It made me angry just to read about how innocent people were ruthlessly killed.
When Ashley and I asked Eric about this he said something like, “That’s the only thing we can do. It’s not fair but that’s what we do. That’s why we have memorials like these to remember and show how it is unfair.”
I am so grateful I got to visit the memorial, and that Ashley and I were able to learn from Eric. I am so in awe of the Rwandan people. They are truly the nicest I have ever met, and they hold no hatred in their hearts.