KARONGI- 17 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, it is evident that survivors in Bisesero, Karongi District are now leading better lives.
Residents in the area are reknowned for their bravery in resisting attacks using bows and arrows, stones and sticks.
It is estimated that over 60,000 people perished in the region, but amid widespread bereavement, the survivors have over time redeemed their lives.
22-year old Bernadette Mukankaka, who is the sole survivor in her family, currently lives with her three cousins whom she has solely taken care of since 1994.
Despite the hardships that have followed her entire life, Mukankaka appears determined to bury the harsh history.
“In the beginning, life was very hard. I had to drop out of school in order for my cousin brothers to study,” Mukankaka narrates.
She opted to practise farming to support her cousins, two of whom have successfully completed secondary education.
Later, Mukankaka joined a tailoring school, where she acquired skills that have enabled her to further improve her economic status.
“From the money I saved through farming, I established a tailoring business and other people around me have benefited,” Mukankaka observes.
Jean Damascene Ndahimana, an employee with the National Commission against Genocide (CNLG), is also yet another survivor whose past and present lives are miles apart.
“At one time, the killers tried to cut off my legs but I escaped and fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo. On my return, I managed to complete university though I lost all my six family members,” Ndahimana recollects.
Bernard Kayumba, the Mayor of Karongi District, is also a Bisesero survivor and says that it is important to continue promoting unity and reconciliation among Rwandans.