The 29-year-old Chantal (not real name) said that 1994 will always be the most dreadful year in her life because she lost most of her family members and the traumatic incidents are glued to her mind.
During the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, I survived by hiding in the bushes for several days and nights with my youngest brother Jean, aged five at the time. I was ten years when the atrocities happened. When the killings started in my village on April 10, 1994, we divided ourselves into two. My mother went to hide with my elder brother Vincent (not real name) who was twelve years at the time and our father decided to go and hide with me and my youngest brother.
My father was killed after five days of hiding while he was trying to defend a woman and her child from being killed by two militias. Before he went to defend the woman and the child, he asked me to take Jean and hide in a nearby abandoned house. I did exactly what I was told, but I didn’t know that it was the last time I would ever see my father. It was after several hours that I moved out of the hiding with Jean to go and look for him. I found the woman that father was trying to save with her baby crying in the bush. When I asked her where my father was, the woman said that he had traded his life to save hers and her child. The woman started crying uncontrollably saying that he had been killed by the two militia men. On hearing this, everything went blur. When I woke up it was after two hours and the woman told me that I had fainted. The woman was still there waiting for me to gain consciousness and Jean had fallen asleep crying on top of me for almost two hours.
The woman took us to another abandoned house and hid us for several days that I lost count of the days. I would stay with her t four months old baby and my brother when she went to look for food but we never left the house. We were later rescued and taken to a camp.
From the camp we were taken to Noel orphanage. One day, the caretaker called me and my brother claiming there was someone who had come to visit us. On reaching, we saw our father. It was like seeing a ghost, I run to hug him but it seemed like it was the longest journey I had ever taken. He told us how he survived the two men and also told us that our mother and brother were killed. I believe that one day I will get to see them like I saw my father. Nineteen years may have passed but the hope is still there.