Viewpoint from Pastor Richard Daly
Pastor for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bristol
My Rwanda Experience
went to Rwanda on a mission project
and spent two weeks in Kibuye. A small costal town that lies on the eastern shore of Lake Kivu.
I had initial apprehensions about going there
but had I not gone I would never have met Esther Mujawayo
. When I first met her the genocide had been a living memory for over ten years where in April 1994 a civil war which lasted for 10
0 days was to later leave an estimated one million people dead. It also left those who lived through it devastated. Esther Mujawayo survived the Rwandan genocide
by pleading with a soldier to spare her life and that of her newborn child. Esther herself lost thirty seven members of her own family including her bedridden mother. She said, " I am one of the lucky ones. I was not raped; I was not hit by a machete. I am alive."
Not only is she alive, but her whole desire in life is to try to encourage the survivors she meets to be what she calls "alive, alive".
She often talked to many people but two stood out - a boy whose parents were butchered in the genocide and another whose parents helped carry it out.
The orphanage at Nyarubuye contains 170 children displaced and orphaned during the genocide. Some children here have simply died of sorrow.
One particular orphan boy had seen his parents killed and was so traumatised that he could not speak for a year. Esther talks softly to the boy and encourages him. But his body language, hand to the side of his face, body turned away from her shows that he is not ready. Perhaps he will never be healed. He cannot get over it. He cannot let it go.
As I approach, Esther says something to him and I capture the moment. The boy looks at the camera and for the first time in ages he smiles.
The second boy we come across is at Nyarubuye church. The church contains the bodies of over 3,000 Tutsi men, women, children and babies who were shot, burned and hacked to death by their Hutu neighbours.
We listen to his
story. However it was confused and inconsistent; one moment he tells us that his father died before the genocide, then that his father died during it. We asked the parish priest about him and were told his parents are alive and took an active part in the killings.
This poor boy cannot come to terms with what his parents had done. He is a different kind of victim from the boy in the orphanage. To get love and sympathy he lies. He too needed love. Esther gave it.
The future for Rwanda lies within two children, one Tutsi, one Hutu. They stand next to each other with Esther between them. She holds their hands and ever so slowly, is bringing them together, not as belonging to one or another tribe but as Rwandan.