Bank of Kigali employees led by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Diane Karusisi braved a Saturday afternoon drizzle in a walk to remember the Bank’s fifteen workers killed 22 years ago during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
The walk that started at Kinamba trading centre was joined by workers of Kobil-Rwanda led by Country Manager Jolly Kalisa whose firm, in a show of corporate solidarity collaborated with the Bank in its 22nd commemoration activities that started with the donation of cows to genocide survivors in Kamonyi district.
The procession of over 600 workers of both organizations then marched to the Kigali Genocide Memorial where a vigil was held.
Video clips of the workers who lost their lives during the genocide were played during the vigil prompting silent tears among relatives and colleagues.
An official from the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) delivered a message that placed leaders at the fore of promoting harmonious living.
The CNLG official noted that the genocide was a result of poisonous talk by leaders whose words “impregnated people with hate and they later gave birth to genocide” whose consequences are rued even after twenty two years.
Pastor Jean Marie Ruzindana then said a prayer, one based on testimony. He was a teenager living at Kicukiro trading centre when the genocide started. His family was among many others of persecuted Tutsis that piled into the ETO Kicukiro, hoping they had found a safe sanctuary.
But they were wrong.
The peace keeping forces guarding the school caved in to pressure from the genocidal government and withdrew leaving thousands of helpless Rwandan Tutsi to face the cruelty of blood thirsty machete wielding killers.
The little Ruzindana tried to force his teenage body inside a bag of a fleeing UN peacekeeper but he failed to fit in; dejected, the boy looked on as the speeding truck carrying the peace-keepers disappeared in a distance.
Before the dust of the speeding truck could settle, the massacre began at the school. Thousands of helpless Tutsi were cruelly hacked by machetes, their blood forming a river as it flowed out of veins of the victims, every drop draining the life out of their shattered bodies.
These were painful deaths for pointless reasons. But the young Ruzindana somehow survived something he attributes to a divine veil that miraculously protected him throughout the ordeal that claimed his family.
Like many other children his age, he all of a sudden was rendered an orphan, without anyone to fend for him, he narrated how he resorted to drugs, smoked weed to blow away his sorrows until his life turned around after getting saved.
As a pastor today, he uses his childhood experience to comfort other survivors and inspire courage, hope and determination to live life in spite of its trials.
“That my friends, is a story we are all familiar with; the death of our loved ones might prompt us to doubt God but the fact that some of us survived is a testimony that there is divine power that works in ways we can’t fully fathom,” Pastor Ruzindana as he concluded his sermon.
It was a somber mood as Bank of Kigali’s Dr. Karusisi and Kobil’s Kalisa led their staff in lighting candles in memory of not only fallen colleagues but also other victims of the genocide.
The BK CEO, in her message reiterated Bank of Kigali’s commitment to supporting the families of the staff who lost their lives during the Genocide against the Tutsi and to ensure that even in their absence, they benefit from the growth of an institution that they once served.
“As a Bank, we also commit ourselves to supporting government efforts in fighting the genocide ideology as a way of rebuilding our country,” she said.
A representative of the families of the Bank employees who lost their lives during the genocide against the Tutsi thanked Bank of Kigali’s management for the committed support to relatives of the former employees.
Supporting Kamonyi survivors
Earlier in the day, a delegation of Bank of Kigali and Kobil-Rwanda employees headed to Kamonyi district where they together donated 21 hybrid cows, built 21 kraals to twenty one different beneficiaries who are also genocide survivors.
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, Bank of Kigali, in collaboration with CNLG, every year selects needy families and supports them with cows, in line with the President’s ‘Giri’nka’ initiative that is aimed at transforming people’s lives financially.
This year’s needy families were selected from two villages of Rugarika and Gacurabwenge located in Rwanda’s Southern Province district of Kamonyi.
Each of the recipients, according to the Bank officials, will be helped to construct a kraal and shall receive medicine for half a year to ensure that the animals are kept in good health.
Bank of Kigali’s Dr. Karusisi noted that giving a cow is not only an important gesture in the Rwandan culture but also is in line with the Bank’s goal of financially transforming lives.
“If well taken care of, a single cow can turn around the fortunes of a poor family, from providing food to generating a small income that can support a household’s other basic needs,” she said.
That is what Jeannette Mukamutako, one of the beneficiaries, hopes to achieve with her cow. She expressed her pleasure noting that the cow will create a lasting bond between herself and Bank of Kigali.
“Although I don’t have a bank account at the moment, I believe this cow will give me an income to open one in the near future and deepen my relationship with Bank of Kigali and its caring management,” said Mukamutako.
The giveaway was presided over by Aimable Udahemuka, the Kamonyi district Mayor. He noted that Bank of Kigali’s support was in line with the district’s efforts of re-stocking the area that was well known for cattle grazing before the genocide.
“The challenge for us all, the district, the giver and the given is to ensure that the cows receive good care if they are to serve the desired purpose. As a district, we shall play our part, with partners, to regularly supervise the beneficiaries and support them where they need help,” he said.