This week marks the 51st anniversary of Rwanda’s Independence from colonialism as well as Rwanda Liberation Day that marks the end of the 1994 Genocide. Between 1959, when the Tutsi King was exiled, 1962, when Rwanda recieved her independence, and July 1994, when the genocide ended, Rwanda and her people had faced political unrest and, as a result, lost over a million lives due to senseless violence.
To many of us, this is just a history lesson. However, today, there was a real reminder that genocide was ONLY 19 years ago. Just 19 years ago, communities were destroyed, including where we work in Gatagara. Throughout this country, a country the size of Maryland, 10,000 people–men, women and children–were killed every day for 100 days straight. That’s one million people murdered simply for being born Tutsi.
Working in Gatagara, a community that was also destroyed by genocide in 1994, it is easy to brush off the history if you did not live through it. The joy and laughter of the children surrounds you and the kind greetings by the community to and from the field makes the horror of the past seem so distant. Today was different, today the past was right in front of us.
Upon arriving at the field for our daily program, the kids and coaches were greeted by District Officials who were hosting a meeting at our community field. At least 350 members of the community were there along with 18-20 prisoners. Prisoners who played a role in destroying the community and families we serve. Due to the seriousness of the situation, KPI moved its programming to the City of Joy-Rwanda field. We left the District Meeting trying to keep our voices low but less than a minute after leaving the laughter continued, the skipping started, and the kids were back in their element.
Today was a reminder of the strength of the people in our community. A reminder of the horror that happened here but the hope that remains. The parents of our kids who experienced unimaginable pain and suffering are raising a generation of children who laugh, sing, and praise. Regardless of the pain they still hold in their hearts, they are doing the best they can for their children. Days like today remind us of the importance of our work, and how grateful we are to play a small part in shaping the minds of Rwanda’s future leaders. From where we stand, the future is bright!
Check out our pictures from today’s program: click here.