In 1994, in the span of three months, about 1 million Tutsis were killed in Rwanda. Every year on April 7th, the country comes together for 100 days of remembrance. The first 7 days of this 100 day commemoration are known as the National Mourning Week. The Mourning Week will conclude on April 13 with an event to pay respect to politicians killed for opposing the inhumane activities of the genocidal government. This time of remembrance for the victims of the Rwandan Genocide has been observed each year since 2004, a decade after the genocide took place.
Dr. Jean Damascene Bizimana, a Rwandan Senator who was the country’s Ambassador to the UN in 1994 when the genocide began, stated,
To honour the memory of those lost, we will spend 100 days coming together. We will spend the rest of our lives fighting genocide ideology – with all the tools in our possession. Good governance, continued and sustainable growth, and remembering our loved ones are our weapons of choice.
This year’s commemoration will be marked under the theme: “Remember the Genocide against the Tutsi – Fight Genocide Ideology – Build on Our Progress.” Around the country, citizens will remember those lost by visiting the many memorials scattered throughout Rwanda’s cities and countryside. Such memorials are pictured below. Even though this mass killing occurred 23 years ago, the families in the Best Family Rwanda program have directly felt its impact. For some of the children, their parents are permanently disabled, physically and/or mentally, making it tough for them to find a job or build relationships. Two of the villages where our families live feel the weight of the genocide deeply. Kinyinya is a community of women who were widowed due to the genocide, and Nyarugunga is a community for veterans who had been wounded fighting against the genocidaires.
For all Rwandans, whether a survivor who witnessed the atrocity, or a young person who was not yet born, whether a relative of a victim or of a perpetrator, the memory of what occurred in 1994 is a painful one. Thank the Lord that in the last 23 years, Rwanda has made great strides of progress. Though the memory is painful, it is still just a memory, and no longer a reality. God has brought this nation so far, and with God’s blessing, will continue to grow and thrive.
We ask that you join us in praying for the country of Rwanda, for those lost, and for those who are building the future.