Paying homage to the ’94 Rwandan genocide

The roads into Kigali reveal the daily grind for most locals. Heavy loads of bananas, pineapples, sticks, papayas, water and babies being carried kilometer after kilometer on the side of the road. Those lucky enough to have a bike must push the bike up the hill and hop on to cruise down. Women carry baskets on their heads and babies on their backs and little children run around playing in their bare feet.

On the way back to Kigali we stopped at a Catholic church in Nyamata (the capital of Bugesera) which is now a memorial to the genocide. In 1992, during a wave of killings, hundreds of people hid in this church and were saved thanks to an Italian nun who called upon the government to spare their lives. In 1994, during the Hutu dominated genocide, 10,000 Tutsi crammed into and around this same church with the hopes of being saved in the same way. But this time there was no mercy to be had, and all 10,000 people were massacred with machetes, clubs, grenades, and machine guns. The church still holds the clothes of all who were killed as a symbol of their presence. It also has many of the remains in the form of a mass grave, which we entered to find skulls and bones stacked against the walls. Needless to say it was a powerful and emotionally draining experience.

We stopped for a drink at the U.S. Ambassador’s house in Kigali, and then went on to dinner at an amazing little restaurant called “Heaven.” The many hills in Rwanda make for beautiful views from almost anywhere. Tired from the trip and the long day, we headed to bed. More to come from Rwanda soon!

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