Friday, 2 September 2011

The Aegis Trust and Rwanda


Aegis has been working with the Rwandan Government to develop and deliver a national genocide education programme which was launched in June 2008.  The programme not only teaches the youth of Rwanda, but will eventually reach out to the African region and around the world, next April l will have the opportunity to witness the education programme in action with a group of students visiting Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.


In April 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the genocide which tore Rwanda apart in 1994, the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre was opened.  The Memorial Centre is an international Centre, dealing with a topic of international importance, with far-reaching significance.  The Centre is designed to engage and challenge the hearts and minds of its visitors. 

Following a visit by members of the Rwandan Government to the UK’s Holocaust Memorial Centre and Aegis Trust, founded and managed by Dr’s James and Stephen Smith, Aegis was invited to build the Centre in partnership with the Kigali City Council.

The Memorial Centre is a place where the bereaved can bury their families and friends – the human remains of over 250,000 victims of the genocide are buried at the site – a clear reminder of the cost of failure to protect people at risk of genocide.

Burials continue to take place at the Centre - the city is developing and during this development human remains are still discovered.  Also, the Gacaca trials are just coming to an end - during these trials, leniency has been offered to perpetrators on condition that they provide information about where victims are buried. (The Gacaca trials are part of a system of community justice inspired by tradition and established in 2001 in the wake of the genocide).

The Centre exists as a permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the genocide, as a place for Rwandans to grieve for those who were lost and as a warning from history for the region and the world.  It hosts three permanent exhibitions, the largest of which documents the genocide in 1994. There is also a children’s memorial and an exhibition on the history of genocidal violence around the world. The Education Centre, Memorial Gardens and Documentation Centre of the genocide all contribute to a meaningful tribute to those who perished and for a powerful educational tool for the Rwandan and international community.

Aegis has managed the Centre since its opening, and on 16th August, 2011, agreed to continue to manage the Centre in partnership with the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) for a further 10 years.

The Aegis Trust has helped support other memorials around the country.  The church at Ntarama and the memorial at Nyarubuye still house remains of the dead and remain a testimony to the devastation that affected every community in the country. Aegis also created the Memorial and Exhibition at Murambi – a school where over 40,000 were slaughtered.  In another attack, people fled to another school at ETO (Ecole Technique Officielle) as it housed 90 Belgian Troops serving with UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda).  But following the death of 10 Belgian Troops the rest of the troops were withdrawn.  Each Memorial has its own tragic story. 

For more information on the Kigali Memorial Centre follow this link - 
Kigali Memorial Centre  

As you can see this is just a very brief overview of what the Aegis Trust do in Rwanda, in the coming months leading up to next April l hope to share with you more detailed information as l learn more myself.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Lynsey, what a noble adventure you are pursuing! I joined Aegis at the beginning of the year but got the impression that you needed to be a student to take part in their activities. I can't wait to learn more about your adventure.