Students Remember Rwandan Genocide
Students gathered in Hancock on April 12 in remembrance of those who died in the Rwandan Genocide just 25 years ago. This is the third year that the Rwandan students have hosted this event, in order provide information, raise awareness, and vow to never forget what happened.
“Although it the darkest part of our history, it is important to know what happened so that history can never be repeated again,” said Rwandan Student Joseph Iradukunda.
The genocide took place in Rwanda from April 7 to July 15, 1994. Nearly one million Rwandans were killed during those 100 days. The day prior, April 6, the Rwandan President, Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundi president, Cyprien Ntaryamira died when their plan was shot down as it was preparing to land in Rwanda capital, Kigali.
The event is put together but the Rwandan Students in collaboration with the CMA program and SGA. The current Rwandan students include; Charlotte Uwimana, Bob Nkubara, Mac Mugabo, Joseph Iradukunda, Sabrine Muhoza, Sandra Akariza, Allen Mico, and Ornella Mihigo (who is currently doing a semester abroad).
The event opened with each attending student being handed a candle and a gray ribbon to pin over their heart. Following the opening remarks by Akariza, all attendees went on a walk, led by Akariza and Muhoza, across campus in honor the nearly one million people who died. Everyone held their lit candles as they walked. Following the walk, everyone returned to the classroom in Hancock for the remainder of the event.
This year, the school welcomed guest speaker, Daniel Ndamwizeye, better known professionally as Daniel Trust. Trust was born and raised in Rwanda, and is a survivor of the Genocide. He immigrated to the United States when he was 15 as a refugee.
Trust was five years old when the genocide began. “I remember my parents calling everyone in the living room and asking us to pray because something terrible was going to happen to us. Myself, my mom and my two sisters, went to hide at the church we worship at. We were there for a couple days until a group of people with machetes came and took everyone outside and started killing everyone,” Trust said.
His mother would be found in the church and killed, his father was caught and killed as he was trying to hide, and both his sisters were killed as they tried to run away. Trust was not caught. His family’s killers then stole all their valuable belongings and set their house on fire.
“When i share my story I always say I survived by the grace of god because I could have been killed as well,” Trust said.
Trust was the youngest of eight children. As mentioned, two of his sisters were killed during the genocide, but he had one sister that moved to the United States before the genocide began, nad one that moved as a refugee in 2000.
In 2001 his sister Evelyn, was already living in the United States. She sent her husband to get Trust, and they lived in Zambia for four years. In 2005 Trust moved to the United States as a refugee.
Following Trust telling his story, the floor opened up to questions. Many attendees took this time to thank Trust for coming and telling his story.
Following the question portion, the Rwandan students performed a collective play where each student acted the thoughts of Hutus, Tutsis, and a Priest.
To close the event, each of the Rwandan students named loved ones who died during the genocide in order to honor them.
The commemoration event first began in 2016 by Rwandan students, Emily Uwase(alumni), Ange Uwimana (alumni), Samantha Gwiza (alumni), Joseph Iradukunda, and Bob Nkubara. T
Akariza said, “April is a month where the country mourns the loss of it's loved ones. Bringing the commemoration event, helps us to bring a part of what we are missing by being here and not at home during this difficult time for us and our families. We do this in order to mourn for the people lost during the genocide, but most importantly, to educate the rest of the community about the progress Rwanda has made since then.”