a peace of memories of mom

For 100 days in Rwanda, from April to July, a candle burns…from the flame that stays lit for the entire period at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre to small commemorations across the country such as this special day of mourning at INATEK (in Kibungo), April 29, by student survivors and orphans of the Tutsi Genocide. The day was organized by the local chapter of AERG, an association created in 1996 to become a new family for all orphans of the Genocide. Each university and high school in Rwanda has an AERG association.

One of our partners, Basic Brilliant Africa (BBA), participated in this day. “We want to be with them at this time and to do some thing like a symbol of love and solidarity of remembering together what happened,” noted BBA President Jean Paul Ngiruwera.

Join us on Mother’s Day and for the remaining days of May, June and July, as we stand in solidarity with youth in Rwanda who have lost a mom, a dad, and other loved ones. Make a donation – a little gift of motherly love that will send some youth to peace camp. See what happened at the first peace camp.

Memory is important in the peace and reconciliation process. See more stories.

We also stand in solidarity with those who continue to suffer from violence and remember moms like Kavugho Kalupao who 7 years ago saw all of her children, and her husband, killed before her eyes. She is the sole survivor of her village of 720. She lives in the DR Congo, in a region plagued by years of war and where rape continues to be a tactic, a weapon of intimidation and destruction that was used in the Genocide and still used today. We thank her for courageouly sharing her story to encourage others in her situation.

It’s a difficult story to share, but she truly is a mother, and a woman, to honor on Mother’s Day.

“They laid us all down [in the village] like firewood and I said ‘Please, let me pray to my God’,” she recalls. She prayed and they proceeded to rape, torture, beat and cut her with a panga (machete). “They left me, thinking I was dead. After many hours I regained consciousness and started moving, crawling on my belly, because I couldn’t stand up.”

Somehow she survived, hiding in the forest for a whole month, without medicine or medical treatment. She eventually made her way to Goma and met a pastor who helped her. “He started to counsel me so I did not go crazy. I’m surving today because of this pastor, otherwise I don’t know where I would be.”

It took several years for her to start to come to terms, emotionally and spiritually, with what happened. “God is with me…I forgave them…they didn’t know what they were doing,” she now shares, noting the impact of the counselling, love and support of this pastor and others at Oneness Development Institute. “They told me that I am special person in God’s eyes…that I survived for an important reason…I realize that I would be hurting myself [if I didn’t forgive] and that my God will heal me and help me.”

Today this brave woman helps other women, especially teen moms, who have experienced the same humiliation and brutal hurt in their lives, often shunned by the community, even thrown out of the family, after their ordeal. With the training and support of Oneness Development Institute, they have formed an association and started small businesses of selling mandazi (African donut), sugar cane, bananas, tomatoes and peanuts. They have also started a group savings and have plans to learn sewing and to start a tailoring business. A Peace of Life is one of their partners and we hope to bring some of these youth from the Congo to the next peace camp where we will be focussing on entrepreneurship, to help youth develop business skills to combat poverty in their family, development that’s crucial to the peace and reconciliation process.

Stop the cycle of violence with a gift of love. Help train and mentor youth who are working for peace and development in Rwanda and the DR Congo. See more inspiring stories of youth working for change.

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