As part of the twenty-first commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, representatives of 50 international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in Rwanda, visited Ntarama memorial site in Bugesera District, to pay tribute to 5000 Genocide victims.
The visit, organised under the auspices of the Network of International NGOs (NINGO), was marked by laying a wreath on the caskets which contain the remains of the Genocide victims who were massacred in and around Ntarama Catholic Church parish.
The group of 63 members of NINGO observed a moment of reflection, and listened to the testimony of Angelique Mukabukizi, a widow whose family was killed in Ntarama church which has since been turned into a memorial site.
Mukabukizi, 53, narrated how less than 10 people survived out of the over 5,000 people who sought refuge at the church.
“This church and the small buildings around it were filled with bodies. I can’t imagine surviving from the brutal killings here, but I did.
‘‘The interahamwe militia threw grenades, and butchered people, and tortured females to death after raping them, and smashed babies against the walls of this church. My first born and husband were killed here.
‘‘I and my second born hid among dead bodies and upon militia departure, I ran to the bush while carrying my baby on the back in search for refuge,” she recalled.
Mukabukizi said she later managed to move from there and kept on hiding in the swamps until the RPF army rescued her late May 1994.
Mukabukizi is now on the journey towards a brighter future, she said.
‘‘I practice farming, and was also able to take care of orphans of Genocide, at the moment, three are married,” she said.
The Chairperson of NINGO and Country Director of American Refugee Committee, Frederic Auger, encouraged member organizations to honour the departed victims, and to support survivors.
“Commemoration is one thing, but we are working for Rwanda’s development, improved wellbeing, reconciliation, healing, supporting Genocide survivors, and to fight divisionism as a way of preventing such atrocities from happening again,” he said.
They offered Rwf800,000 to help in the maintenance of the memorial site and pledged continued support to the Genocide survivors in the area.
Bugesera District vice mayor for Social Affairs Priscille Uwiragiye told the visitors that, the district has 70,000 of Genocide victims burried at four memorial sites and commended the NGOs for their support and partnership with the government.
“These facts prove the cruelty of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, so there is no room for denial or revisionism. As you have seen and heard about the history here, help us spread the truth to the world in order to fight the genocide denial,” she said.
NINGO is an umbrella of more than 50 international NGOs which support Rwanda through humanitarian and development al work.