Saturday, 14 April 2012

Day 2 Revisitied

Kigali Memorial Centre was opened to mark the tenth anniversary commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  The Centre is situated in the district of Gisozi, the site chosen for mass burial of the 250,000 victims of genocide in Kigali.

The site is the final resting place and Memorial to all those who were murdered in Kigali.  To the surviving family members it is the place they come to remember their loved ones.  It is also a place of reflection and learning for the rest of Rwanda and its visitors.

The Centre comprises of three permanent exhibitions.  The largest of these documents the genocide in 1994; there is also a children's memorial, and an exhibition on the history of genocidal violence around the world.  Memorial gardens, the National Documentation Centre of the Genocide an the Kigali Memorial Centre education centre all contribute to a sincere meaningful tribute to the victims of the past and education of future generations.

Taken from: Jenoside - Kigali Memorial Centre 

To sit here and explain what each section of the exhibition was about is a very difficult thing to do as it was a very personal journey to go on.  I gained a deeper understanding of Rwanda's history, how 1994 wasn't the first time that genocide had taken place in Rwanda, how the disgusting use of propaganda conditioned the majority of the Hutu population to see neighbours, friends and even members of their own family as the enemy.  When President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane was shot down whilst flying in to Kigali on the 6th April, 1994 it was genocide from the first day.  Death lists had been pre-prepared in advance, no Tutsi was exempt.  In 100 days more than 1,000,000 people were murdered, 10,000 each day, 400 each hour, 7 each minute.  Those that weren't killed were tortured, mutilated and raped.  There were over 300,000 orphans with over 85,000 children left as heads of their households.  There were thousands of widows, many had victim of rape and sexual abuse.  The streets were littered with corpses ......... Rwanda was dead.

I had taken photo's whilst walking round the exhibition but I've decided not to publish them on here, merely out of respect to those who lost their lives.  The exhibition has been sensitively put together but with the hard hitting visual aids needed to put everything you read into perspective.  It's not just reams of facts and figures but a personal insite into the lives of Rwandans during before, during and after the 100 days of mass slaughter.

Kigali Memorial Centre Education Programme

The Rwandan children of today have many different perspectives of the genocide, that of a perpetrators view, a survivors view or from an exiled point of view.  Each depending on their personal families history.  The Education programme run at the centre has an ethos of "learning from the past - building a future".  With the help of Councillor who supports the children during the one day workshops the Centre hopes to teach the children what lessons can be learnt from the past, help them to understand how genocide happens in the first place, helps the youngsters develop active and enquiring minds and to promote the idea of a common future.  To achieve these objectives they look at Rwandan History, 1994 Tutsi genocide, definitions of genocide, other world genocides, the different stages of genocide and critical thinking and problem solving.  During the days process, if the councillor feels at any point that the children aren't coping she stops the workshop.  It's monitored closely with regular follow ups after the workshop has taken place.  The aim isn't to traumatise but to educate to ensure that it never happens again. 

At the moment those who are benefiting from the programme include students, youth clubs, local communities to Kigali and the International Community.  As mentioned in my previous blog, in the 3 years that the programme has been running they have had just under 9000 participants attend the programme.  One of the biggest challenges they have is that many schools in the urban areas of Rwanda can't afford to get the students to the centre.  For one child to attend a days workshop, including travel and teaching materials is $25, not much really!

A new project currently in the development stages is a mobile exhibition which has the main aim of reaching families outside of Kigali.  This may help with the issue of schools not being able to afford to sent their students to the Centre, it will also take the re-education to the heart of the community.

Social Fund

The Social Fund is basically a "rebuilding lives programme".  It primarily supports survivors by supporting household income, surgeries that need to be done overseas, school tuition fees, school uniforms and much more.  There are currently 140 people supported through the programme.  Needs assessments are done on all people who approach the Social fund programme, if they cant help they will point them in the direction of an agency who can.

Current Income Generation

Social Enterprises currently generating an income that can be fed back into the Education Programmes and Social Fund include the gift shop at the Memorial Centre which only sells goods produces by Survivors the Cafe at the Centre and the Youth Hostel (which I will go into more details about in a later blog)

1 comment:

  1. Was an amazing trip Lynsey Hope you got back safe looking forward to meeting up with everyone and getting our plans together for what we can do over there in the future.