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Acts of Reconciliation: A Collection of Articles on 20th Anniversary of Rwandan Genocide

April 8, 2014 by

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide that killed nearly one million people. While a horrific tragedy, there are also amazing stories of reconciliation between those who killed and those who survived. Below is a collection of articles, interviews and videos about the genocide.

Rwanda 20 Years After Genocide
CRS staffer Helen Blakesley writes about an amazing story of reconciliation between two neighbors, Hakim and Viviane. “‘During the genocide, I killed people.’ Hakim makes the admission in a measured voice. ‘This is my neighbor Viviane: I destroyed her house.’ He takes a breath. ‘I spent 10 years in prison. While I was there, Caritas came into the prison, and taught us about reconciliation and unity. They taught us to ask for forgiveness and how to receive it.’”

Shadowed by Tragedy
Kerry Weber, the managing editor at America magazine, writes about the Rwanda she witnessed when she visited there just a few months ago. “Rwanda is a country that longs to be known for something other than the genocide, and over the past 20 years, the nation’s government has worked hard to replace that reputation with a more positive one. In many ways, it has succeeded. Rwanda has made dramatic advances and now ranks among the cleanest, safest and least corrupt countries in Africa. Yet its deepest wound is one that cannot be healed by superficial changes.”

Rwanda Genocide Survivor: How I Learned to Forgive After All My Family Was Slaughtered
From Vatican Radio, and interview with Annonciata Kaligirwa, a Rwandan Catholic whose parents and all her siblings (6 brothers and one sister) were slaughtered during the genocide. She now works in Kigali for the National Peace and Justice Commission of the Catholic Church in Rwanda and spoke to Susy Hodges about the genocide and how she learnt to forgive the perpetrators and help other survivors of the genocide to do the same.

Peacebuilding and Reconciliation: How Things Stand 20 Years After the Rwandan Genocide
From Vatican Radio, an interview with Joseph Muyango, a Rwandan peace-building specialist who works for Catholic Relief Services. He points out that the Catholic Church and religious NGO’s have played an important role in promoting reconciliation after the genocide. One example of this is Catholic Relief Services which, he says, has “trained more than 40,000 Justice and Peace Volunteers” to provide “support at community level” in trauma healing and conflict transformation.

Twenty Years After Genocide, Church Helps Rwanda Heal
Michelle Bauman of Catholic News Agency writes about the genocide following a trip she took recently to Rwanda with Catholic Relief Services where she met with survivors. “’After the genocide, I hated everybody in the community,’ confessed one woman. Another said that she was so traumatized at first that she was incapable of seeing those around her as human….But those who have gradually learned to open their hearts – often with the help of a friend or neighbor, or through the outreach of a priest or nun – have developed the capacity for reconciliation and healing.

Rwanda Wasn’t What I Thought It Would Be
Posted on CNN, Catholic Relief Services staffer LeAnn Hager writes about her experience of living and working in Rwanda today, 20 years after the genocide. She writes, “When you get to Rwanda, you are hit by the incongruity that strikes so many: How could such a horrible thing have happened in such a beautiful country?…Rwanda’s countryside is dotted with what appear to be literally a thousand hills that are a mixture of mountains, volcanoes and hillocks. The beauty is reflected in the people: Rwandans are incredibly friendly and hospitable. But just as you cannot see the other side of a mountain, you cannot always tell what is going on behind those eyes.

EWTN News Nightly, Segment on Rwandan Genocide
Starting at 15:59 on the video timeline, EWTN News Nightly posted a segment about the Rwandan genocide and interviewed Catholic Relief Services staffer Marie-Noelle Senyana-Mottier, who compared life in Rwanda today to 20 years ago: “But now there are so many good examples of people living together after the healing and reconciliation process they went through.”

Video: Survivors, Pope Mark Genocide Anniversary
Catholic News Service interviewed Rwandans and Catholic Relief Services staffers Jennifer Nazaire and Marie-Noelle Senyana-Mottier about their thoughts on the genocide.

Diplomacy, Peacebuilding Head Off Violence Before Mass Atrocities Arise
Catholic News Service writes about the need to stop atrocities before the violence occurs, and notes, “Many developing countries as well as those recovering from mass violence have seen the rise of peacebuilding initiatives by nongovernmental organizations working in local communities.”

Son Rise Morning Show, Segment on Rwandan Genocide (click media player below)
Jennifer Nazaire, who served as CRS’ country representative in Rwanda from 2008-2012, speaks with the Son Rise Morning Show about the Rwandan genocide and its impact on the country. During her time in Rwanda, Jennifer oversaw CRS’ work, in collaboration with the Rwandan Church, to reconcile communities and create peaceful communities.

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