Genocide survivors look to the future

They might have been deprived of a bright future, but it did not stop them from moving on and looking forward to achieve their dreams.
60-year-old Evariste Gasima was among the 20 beneficiaries. Sunday Times/Stella Ashiimwe
60-year-old Evariste Gasima was among the 20 beneficiaries. Sunday Times/Stella Ashiimwe

They might have been deprived of a bright future, but it did not stop them from moving on and looking forward to achieve their dreams.

Dreams of survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that claimed more than a million people looked virtually impossible to achieve shortly after the genocide. However, the government has given them a healthy outlook to heal their emotional scars through resilience, kindness and generosity.

According to Evariste Gasima, a resident of Nyamata Sector, Bugesera, the government and well wishers have given them hope through voluntary donations and other necessities.

The 60-year-old was among 20 beneficiaries of properties worth millions from Bolloré Africa Logistics in Rwanda, a pan-African network and bonded warehousing concern. Gasima was among other survivors who received goats and other household equipment to boost their wellbeing. 

The institution, established 50 years ago, deals in the management of industrial and high-tech projects.  

“I lost all my children, my brothers, sisters and my husband in the genocide. I would be dead by now if the government had not supported me,” said Gasima.

“The Genocide against the Tutsi did not start in 1994 for us, it started earlier. Nyamata was a remote area, tsetse fly ridden. The Habyarimana government used this place as Tutsi extermination area,” said Gasima.

She extended her gratitude to well wishers who have managed to support them through voluntary donations.

Located about 300 meters out of town is the former Nyamata Cathedral Parish where over 12,000 people were butchered during the genocide. The place has since been turned into a Genocide museum, holding remains of over 45,218 people who were massacred in the area. 

Marie Gorette Niyodunsenga, a genocide widow in the area, said that she still struggles to cleanse the memories of the genocide because it happened at the time when she was 26 years old.

“I saw women being raped, children mercilessly killed and men brutally murdered. I survived narrowly and now I am still emotionally affected by what I saw,” she said.

Niyodunsenga also received donations from the logistics company.

According to the Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG), the fund has spent over Rwf130 billion on survivors’ welfare with 75 per cent spent on education since 1998. 

Gilles Shwarz, the director general of Bolloré Africa Logistics in Rwanda, said the donation is part of their corporate social responsibility of giving back to the community.

“We have been deeply touched by the survivors’ stories. We join Rwanda and the rest of the world to fight against genocide ideology and its roots,” he said.

Shwarz, who appeared vividly emotional after touring the Nyamata memorial centre and watching the gruesome scenes in the church, said his organisation is committed to supporting the survivors by giving them a new life full of hope and promise.