A Time of Remembrance

“Yes, it's April again... Every year in April the rainy season starts. And every year, every day in April... The haunting emptiness descends over our hearts. Every year in April, I remember how quickly life ends. Every year, I remember how lucky I should feel to be alive. Every year in April... I remember.” (Sometimes in April, HBO, 2005)

When I watch the movie, Sometimes in April, I feel these lines. There is a feeling in the air that changes from when you go to bed on April 6th to when you wake up on April the 7th.

On 7 April 1994, launched the world’s most horrific genocide where 1 million Tutsis were killed in a span of 100 days. The 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsis has impacted not only the generation who was alive during that time, but has continued to impact future generations through vicarious, or secondary trauma.

30 years ago, most of our staff were either not born or were small children. 30 years ago, our artisans were young children, teenagers or young women.

I have been in Rwanda for 12, almost 13 years and each year the memorial time has evolved. When I first arrived it was accepted that pretty much everything would be closed for the full week of 7-14 April and over the last few years that has evolved to be less and less days of things totally shutting down. During 2020, we were all in full lock-down and commemoration was done through the radio and TV.

Kwibuka, the time of remembrance, has evolved and changed as the healing has continued.

This year, our team has grown to having staff in 2 cities and 2 cohorts of artisans. So we have split our time of remembrance into 3 groups. 

Group 1

Myself and our Musanze staff visited the Musanze Genocide Memorial where we laid flowers as a team in respect to those lost in the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsis. It was a somber moment as we heard that people were given shelter in the local court house, only to then be killed by those who promised them safety. The Vice President of the memorial shared with us the tragic symbolism that innocent lives were unjustly taken in a place that should be dedicated to justice. 


Group 2

Cohort 1 visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where they spent two hours going through the building learning about the history of the Genocide Against Tutsis - some learning this for the first time. One woman shared that she now feels better equipped to educate her children on the country’s history, and has decided to visit different memorials to continue to learn. Another woman shared that she now has more of an understanding of her own mother and her upbringing, now understanding the trauma her mother was carrying. 


Group 3

Cohort 0 visited a local Kigali memorial with some of our staff, where they laid flowers in remembrance. 



Together, staff and both cohorts came together to debrief the day. They discussed avoiding division in their communities, and to embrace the spirit of working together as Rwandans. Others who survived the Genocide shared the importance of avoiding hatred towards others and encouraged everyone to love those around them. The day was closed with Artisans sharing their understanding of resilience and rebuilding - it was a time to come together to strengthen the culture of being united, resilience, and a focus on developing themselves, their families, and the country. Adeline reminded the women that her door is always open if they need to speak more about this experience.