12 November 2008

Rwandan Genocide... Nyamara

Nyamara was the second church… 4,000 were killed in the church and another 6,000 were killed outside… a young man was there to show us around… he was embarrassed to speak because he knew little English but I encouraged him to tell us as much as he could…



Very slowly he built up the courage to tell the stories which unfolded in this church… from the grenades which blew the front doors open to the systematic rapes of each of the beautiful young women Charles told the story with intense details…



Until he got to the Holy Eucharist that his sister hid behind until she was shot down and then he slowly pointed a spot just a few feet away where he had looked on as a 9-year old boy buried beneath the dead body of his older brother and another man who was a stranger…



My heart sank… Charles was not passing on stories from the genocide… He was telling me his story…

1 of 11 children… Charles was the only survivor… 14 years later Charles was giving the recount of his horror to me… a complete stranger armed with a camera and a tour book…

Behind the church were two underground tombs… the first was filled with thousands of skulls and bones… the second with hundreds of coffins… each holding 25-30 bodies… Charles pointed to the 2 coffins where his siblings lay and after a long pause invited us to walk around and take pictures… that was the last thing I wanted to do… but he wanted us to so that others could hear the story of the genocide...



Afterwards we walked out and stood in near the mass graves as I asked Charles to tell his full story… his eyes seemed empty as he recounted the days and weeks of hiding from the Hutu soldiers and eventually finding a home with a Tutsi man with a gun and an old Tutsi woman who was a witchdoctor... both of whom scared the Hutu soldiers away…



Since the genocide he spends every other year in school and his off year working to help other extended family and to pay for his school fees… he is 23 and will graduate from secondary school next year… his plan is to score high enough marks to get a scholarship to university where he will study to be a politician… he wants to make a difference…not knowing that he already has…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jeff. I remember hearing stories like those from survivors. I have no words to describe the experience. I am glad you are sharing his story.
Julie (Neiggemann)