Fractured lives: the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 8 Apr 2014 14:30 PM
Author: Carol Allen Storey for International Alert
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‘Fractured Lives’ is a photographic essay on the incredible stories of Rwandan people who are still working hard to rebuild their lives and their divided society 18 years after the 1994 genocide.

Pictures by Carol Allen Storey for International Alert.

  • “When God wanders the world, at the end of the day he comes to Rwanda to sleep because He considers this to be the most beautiful place on earth.”

    Rwandan folklore saying.

  • An ex-prisoner is counselled by the local Dialogue Club about how to cope with his wife’s rejection following his return home. He feels that his masculinity has been stolen. The club members gently advise him to show her love and romance, not anger.

    Muganza, Gisagara District

  • Lambert, ex-combatant

    “At the onset of the genocide I fled to Congo with my family and joined the insurgents. I was badly wounded, and returned to Rwanda.

    Back home, I heard about a project for ex-combatants suffering from depression, and realised I wasn’t alone.

    After counselling I received microfinancing to create a farming project. One successful project has led to another.”

    Lambert is 35, married and has 3 children.

    Save, Gisagara District

  • Berthilda, ex-prisoner

    “I was tried by a Gacaca court for my crime of witnessing my son slaughtering a Tutsi boy and put in jail. Life incarcerated was intolerable, the biggest problem was the daily pain of shame I felt.

    My life has been transformed since joining the Club – from depression and loneliness, to involvement in the community.”

    Berthilda is 70 and has 9 children.

    Nyange, Ngororero District

  • James, ex-prisoner

    “In school we were taught that Tutsis were evil people dedicated to harming Hutus. The government curriculum fuelled the hatred with those teachings.

    A Tutsi family falsely accused me of murder; I spent over a decade in jail, without a trial.

    Without counselling, I would never have been able to eliminate the hate in my heart.”

    James is 33, married and has a baby.

    Kimironko, Gasabo District

  • Jean-Marie, ex-prisoner

    “I was falsely accused of being a part of the killings and hauled into jail without a trial. After 7 torturous years, I was set free.

    The project has been inspiring; it helped me to start my own business and to assist my neighbours in creating theirs.”

    Jean-Marie is 47, married and has 6 children.

    Mukindo, Gisagara District

  • Hesron, ex-prisoner

    “When the genocide broke out I was deeply involved in the killings. The local government mandated we participate; if we didn’t we would be killed.

    One of the most important things I learned in the Dialogue Club was to lose my fear that Tutsi survivors would seek revenge. I gained the confidence to become their friend.”

    Hesron is 58, married and has 3 children.

    Gatumba, Ngororero District

  • Chantal, ex-prisoner’s wife

    “Even though I am Hutu, I was totally against the genocide, yet I did nothing to stop the bloodshed because I was afraid I would be massacred. My husband was not involved with the killings but he was arrested and put in jail.

    The microfinance project helped me improve my family home with electricity and safe water for my children.”

    Chantal is 47, married and has 6 children.

    Kimironko, Gasabo District

  • Epaphrodite, survivor

    “Life after the genocide was unbearable. There was no reason to live after my wife and children were brutally massacred. The real tragedy was that it was our Hutu neighbours, our friends who committed those unthinkable crimes.

    I had not appreciated I had been traumatised; the counselling helped me get anger out of my heart.”

    Epaphrodite is 57, married and has 5 children.

    Nyange, Ngororero District

  • Patricia and Aloys, survivor and perpetrator

    “At the beginning of the genocide war I rushed to my brother’s home and found they had all been hacked to death. Their 4-month-old daughter was lying next to her mother in a pool of blood. I picked her up and ran all night to safety in Burundi.

    I joined the Dialogue Club to find solace; it helped me realise there is no future for peace unless I can live in peace with my neighbours, even if they are Hutus and participated in my attack during the war.”

    “I was one of the men who attacked Patricia. The Dialogue Club taught me how to approach survivors and ask their forgiveness. This has given me dignity.”

    Patricia is 63, and a grandmother - Aloys is 57, and is married with 3 children.

    Kigembe, Gisagara District

  • Claudine, survivor

    “The Interahamwe kept me alive for their sexual entertainment. I was abused daily by so many men that I lost count. Rape is the most humiliating experience because it creates eternal shame.

    I joined the Dialogue Club, the trauma programme helped me understand how to manage loss and let go of anger.”

    Claudine is 41 and single.

    Kimironko, Gasabo District

  • Epiphanie, survivor

    “I am Tutsi and my husband Hutu. When the genocide war ended, he abandoned me, saying I had no value, because I had no family left to bring him gifts.

    Members of the Dialogue Club have come together and built a kitchen for my house, which had been destroyed.”

    Epiphanie is 45 and has 2 children.

    Muganza, Gisagara District

  • Hutus and Tutsis work together to build a new house for one of the members of their Dialogue Club who had lost everything during the genocide.

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