Twenty-two years ago, Rwanda was torn apart by the Genocide against the Tutsi that killed more than a million people within a space of 100 days.
Among those that survived the killings is Serge Gasore, a former national athletics runner.
He lost both his parents and many other relatives during the Genocide.
Gasore has since dedicated his life to helping many to move past their tragic past.
Born in Gashora, Bugesera in 1986, he studied at St Joseph Kabgayi before joining Ririma, and later got a scholarship to study at Abilene Christian University in Texas, US specialising in Theology. He graduated in 2009.
While in the United States, he received a lucrative contract from sportswear company Adidas but turned it down choosing instead to pursue further studies. He later earned a master’s degree in Information Technology.
After graduating, there was a diversity of choices to make but the former 10km and 4km runner decided to return home to offer support to not only young and upcoming athletes but also other survivors of the Genocide to forge ahead in life.
“I turned down the Adidas offer because I was focused on coming back home, and I wanted to lend a hand to improve lives, and to teach and educate my fellow countrymen and women about the evils of the Genocide, and help them move on,” he says.
After returning home, Gasore initiated different projects, including one for paying health insurance premiums (Mutuelle de Sante) for vulnerable Genocide survivors as well aiding different schools.
While in the US, Gasore wrote a book entitled “My Day to Die, ‘Running For My Life’. “I wrote it to help empower and inspire life and to heal wounds,” he said.
“I felt I should,” he told Saturday Sport, “Because I wanted to respond to those who ignore or deny the atrocities that really happened in Rwanda. Some people question the Genocide so I felt I should also respond through writing to show what really happened.”
In his book, he shares his early life’s story before the Genocide, spiritual victories and moving on later on, his going to America, and so forth.
He has initiated an “Inter-Community Hub For Children” in Bugesera, which benefits orphaned children through childcare services.
In terms of sport, Gasore believes his hometown has a lot of raw talent. “I have so far organized three athletic competitions,’ he said. “I have an athletic club of 12 athletes, both girls and boys with an experienced coach based in Bugesera to train the youngsters and oversee the whole programme”
“I also have dance and drama clubs in different schools,” he added.
Ntarama Athletics Club is recognized by Rwanda Athletics Federation (RAF) and consultations are underway to incorporate an annual regional competition on the national calendar, entitled, “12km Peace and Race Event”.
Gasore says he also plans to introduce a walking race, an Olympic discipline.
The former athlete said, “Sports plays a big role in fighting trauma, stress, disease, and brings people together, promoting reconciliation in the process.”
In 2007, Gasore and three others; Slyvain Rukundo, Felix Ntirenganya and Dieudonne Disi represented Rwanda at the World Road Running Championship in Udine, Italy.
Last year, he represented the country at the 9th Annual 5km Road Race in Trinidad and Tobago, finishing second in a time of 14’42”.