In 1994, I was five years old when the genocide broke out in my country – Rwanda (killings started in the village I lived in). My parents had to take me and my three siblings into hiding.
My father later wrote a book called “Rescued by Angels: Three times a refugee” (during the genocide of 1994, my father become a refugee for the third time in his life!) Being only five at the time of the genocide, I barely remember anything. And the little I remember, I wonder how much of it is real or my amazing imagination recreating a film in my mind with Rescued by Angels as my script!
Needless to say, being so young at the time, I have been mercifully spared from nightmares and serious depression.
Every day I watch/listen to the news, now and then I hear of a tragedy happening somewhere in a different part of the world; a flood, earth quake, killings, missing planes and so forth. I watch in horror and then I switch off the TV and go on with my work and life.
I have watched “Hotel Rwanda”, and after I finished I was sad for “those people”!! What a tragedy!! I have become an outsider looking upon this small amazing country in the heart of Africa just as amazed by the horror stories being told and the history written!
Now and then I get a sharp wakeup call when names of my grandparents, cousins, and family friends are ticked off – all lost in the genocide.
I get a wakeup call when approached by an orphan who never knew her mother! I get a wakeup call when a friend tells me that her neighbour killed her family and that she would drop by and say hello because they have now reconciled. I get a wakeup call when I read the bible and see how sinful and imperfect Rwanda is!
Yet God still loves us! It has been 20 years now since the country went through such a terrible time (songs were written questioning where God was at the time). Each year in the month of April a commemoration is held in Rwanda to remember those dearly lost.
It is a time when the amazing stories of testimonies, recovery, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation are shared. I listen to them in awe to all the inspirational stories and I want to remember them!
I want to share with all our ICS volunteers how much God’s presence during this time means! I want to share with them that God has a purpose for Rwandans! His love and grace for a country so fallen!
Helping to coordinate the Tearfund ICS programme in Rwanda has shown me that ICS is playing a role in giving Rwandans a chance to bring new development and hope to our country.
Every time I visit one of the projects our volunteers are working on and see communities coming together, children receiving education and new ideas being formed, I know that our country will rise again.
One of the most exciting parts about ICS is the involvement of Rwandan volunteers, working alongside UK volunteers. It gives both sides the chance to really begin to explore and understand a different culture, to learn from each other and to share new ideas and ways of doing things.
I see nervous volunteers becoming confident speakers, shy individuals laughing in their teams and young people with little idea of what to do in the future, becoming motivated for what lies ahead.
ICS is playing a unique role in my country and despite all that we’ve been through, it gives me hope for my generation, that we will take Rwanda to a new level.