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On CNN: Rwanda Wasn’t What I Thought It Would Be

April 4, 2014 by

Many women lost their husbands and children in the genocide. Today, there are about 50,000 genocide widows in Rwanda who live in communities established specifically for them so they can support each other. Photo by Helen Blakesley/CRS

Many women lost their husbands and children in the genocide. Today, there are about 50,000 genocide widows in Rwanda who live in communities established specifically for them so they can support each other. Photo by Helen Blakesley/CRS

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide on April 7th, Catholic Relief Services staffer LeAnn Hager writes about her own experience in Rwanda. From CNN:

(CNN) – When I first arrived in Rwanda’s capital in 2012, I deliberately did not visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did not want that experience to influence how I approached the country and its people.

In my mind, Rwanda was going to be this country that was still on the brink of economic disaster. It would be very poorly set up, with a bad road system and difficult telecommunications. Frankly, I despaired of working with the government, thinking it would be extremely challenging to work with.

I remember 1994 well. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa and the Rwandan genocide, right on the heels of Nelson Mandela’s election in South Africa, was big news across the continent.

When I was assigned to Rwanda 18 years later, my first thought was the genocide — this is probably true for most people. But when I asked friends and colleagues who had lived there for advice, they spoke highly of the country and her people. I started seeing this as another adventure on this continent that I love, though I had visions of the film “Hotel Rwanda” resounding in my mind.

Those preconceptions were quickly dispelled once I got there.

Read the full article on CNN.

Related articles:
CRS World Report: Catholic Journalists Witness the Power of Forgiveness in Rwanda
Lisa Hendey Talks about Rwanda on the Son Rise Morning Show
Podcast in Spanish, CRS en el Mundo: Peacebuilding 20 Years After the Rwanda Genocide

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