A 30-Year Journey of Hope and Healing

A 30-Year Journey of Hope and Healing

April 7, 2024, marks 30 years since the beginning of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. While the people of Rwanda have spent many years healing and reconciling the tragedy that unfolded decades ago, many continue to feel the impact of what took place in 1994. 
Handspun Hope is part of this healing and unity story. Through holistic support, dignified employment, community building, and spiritual counsel, the women of Handspun Hope are equipped and empowered to live transformational lives. 

Many women at Handspun Hope carry with them stories of hope. One such story is that of Euralie.

This story is shared with Euralie's expressed consent. We ask that those who hear her story recognize that this is not her whole story and certainly not the end. Her story is just one of the many stories of hope in Rwanda and beyond.

Euralie was born one of 9 children. Sadly, her father died from an illness when Euralie was 6 years old, while the youngest of her siblings was just one year old.  After her father’s passing, life was difficult for Euralie’s mother, who had to care for and provide for the entire family. 

As she got older, Euralie desired to study and finish her education. However, because of existing ethnic tension and ruling ideologies about her ethnic group, Euralie was forced to quit school. Fortunately, her mother was able to help her find a 3-year vocational program through which she learned to sew. 

As conflict began to build in 1994, Euralie’s family began to endure what would become a long period of abuse, persecution, and torture. Euralie remembers April 6, 1994, as a day she will never forget – it was the day that her family shared their last meal together. 

April 7, 1994, the massive killing of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began across Rwanda. Euralie’s family sought refuge in a nearby church, and through the grace of God, a priest managed to stop the militia from invading the building. While hiding in the church, nuns provided refugees with some food for a few days. However, the support eventually ended, and Euralie’s family left to find another refuge. During this time of hunger and desperation, Euralie tried to return to their home to see if there was any food remaining there. Upon arriving, she found that everything had been destroyed and burned. 

Euralie’s family gathered with other refugees to survive as the violence intensified. Euralie recounts incidents of killings by machetes, heavy sticks, and even grenades. Euralie’s entire family was murdered in the violence, but she managed to escape with a few others in an attempt to reach the border of Burundi. 

While attempting to evade militia members, Euralie and her companions were forced to hide in a swamp. While in the swamp, the group was surrounded by the militia, and many were murdered. 

During the violence, a woman – whom Euralie did not know – saw that Euralie seemed strong and able to run. Because of this, the woman gave Euralie her 3-year-old daughter and asked her to run away in hopes they would survive. Once again, by the grace of God, Euralie managed to narrowly escape. 

Euralie continued to run and hide herself with the child until she finally came to a house, where she asked for a place to hide. The family in the house was afraid, but they bravely let her in. When the militia arrived, they questioned the family about the identity of Euralie and the young child. Euralie lied and told them that the child belonged to a family that she was serving as a house helper in Kigali – thereby disguising herself as a refugee of violence from another city. 

As rescue and intervention efforts began, Euralie was taken to a refugee camp. That July, she returned to the village where she had been hiding. She told the family that she hid the truth about the child’s identity and thanked them for protecting them. 

Around the same time, Euralie also returned to her native village to see if she could find any surviving family members. She soon discovered that almost all had been killed. She was the only one left, except her uncle and two cousins. She and the child she was caring for were able to move in with her uncle. 

Unfortunately, not long after being reunited, her uncle died. Euralie was left to care for her younger cousins and the child she had rescued, Yvonne. Life continued to be very difficult for Euralie. During this time, Euralie met Yvonne’s aunt and realized she had to let the aunt take care of her, as she was struggling to provide for all three children. 

Some years later, another survivor introduced Euralie to Handspun Hope. Today, Euralie oversees all of the preparation process of our cotton yarn. She is grateful to God that she has a job with Handspun Hope and continues to work hard to become self-reliant. 

Euralie also praises God that she was recently able to reconnect with the child she had rescued in 1994, Yvonne. Euralie lost contact with Yvonne almost immediately after Yvonne returned to live with her aunt. However, in 2021, Euralie and Yvonne met again for the first time in 27 years. During this visit, Euralie learned that the 3-year-old handed to her in a swamp during the Genocide Against the Tutsi had not only survived but is now a strong young woman who went on to graduate with a university degree.