An Important day for Rwanda and the international community as it is International Day of Reflection on the Genocide against the Tutsi. It also marks the beginning of a national mourning period where Rwandans remember the loved ones lost and grieve the atrocities that occurred. This year we commemorate 27 years since the gruesome events that took place in 1994.
We know this is an especially difficult time of year for those who lost loved ones, those who suffered the unthinkable and those experiencing trauma as a result of the events that transpired. And as we kickoff our Building on Hope fundraiser, we wanted to give an overview of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the impact this program has made, and why the completion of our counseling center is so critical. Read on to learn more and how you can get involved.
A time to remember…
As we use April 7th to reflect, it is important to remember the events that occurred in just 100 days, between April 6th and July 4th in 1994.
During that time, an estimated 800,000 - 1,000,000 people were systematically slaughtered in the Genocide against the Tutsi. Conservatively, this equates to six people being murdered….every second…of every minute…of every day…for 100 days. It is an unimaginable figure.
Although 85% of Rwanda is made up of people from the Hutu tribe, the Tutsi minority has long been in control of the country. After a plane carrying then-president Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down, the Hutu, convinced this was the work of the Tutsi-led rebel group, organized militias with one focus: to kill every Tutsi and Tutsi sympathizer in Rwanda.
Killings began in the capital city, Kigali, but eventually spread across the country. No area was spared, no village safe. Tutsis would seek refuge in churches. The church doors would be locked from the outside and burned to the ground. Militias made up of HIV-positive men were sent out with express orders to infect as many Tutsi women as possible. Women were raped then forced to watch as their families were murdered. Afterward, the militia would often tell the women, “We are going to let you live so you may die of sadness.” It is estimated that as many as 500,000 women were raped during the genocide and, of those, 67% were infected with HIV.
…a time to mourn…
After April 7th, Rwandans will continue through the national mourning period, a time where the country focuses on the Genocide against the Tutsi until July 4th, or Liberation Day. A difficult time for many, this mourning period allows individuals to continue grieving those who were lost.
We encourage you to take the time to watch this video where Speciose, one of our __, shares her story, what she lost during the Genocide against the Tutsi, and how she has overcome the hardship she endured as a result of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
To read our blog post featuring Speciose, click here.
Interview published with explicit permission from Speciose.
…and a time for hope.
When visiting the Genocide Memorial Museum in Kigali, Rwanda visitors are struck with many facts, feelings, emotions, and devastating stories. But you are also struck with the immense feeling of hope that resides there and, ultimately, in the people themselves.
Because while that place commemorates the evil that took place in 1994 and its aftermath, hope rises and blankets the darkness.
You see it in the reconciliation that has happened, and is still taking place, between those who lost loved ones and those who committed brutal actions. You see it in the country’s dedication to never let something like this happen again. You see it in the Handspun Hope staff who, through the Lord’s grace and critical counseling services, are able to make amends, heal, and move forward. And, most importantly, you see it in the way Rwandans lean on God to be their hope and strength.
To learn more about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, click here.
Building on Hope
We’re on a mission to raise the remaining $14,000 needed to build the second level of our counseling center.
We also have some VERY generous individuals who have agreed to match donations up to $7,000!
And, most importantly, you give hope.
This blog is part two of a five part blog series for our latest fundraiser, Building on Hope: The Finish Line Fundraiser for The Will Barnhill Counseling Center. To read the first blog in the series and learn more about the fundraiser, click the link below.