Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kigali, Rwanda

Marc and I had the chance to go to Kigali, Rwanda for four nights a few weeks ago. Our school is adopting a new curriculum for the Bible program, and the author of the curriculum was going to be doing a training in Kigali. It worked out that I could tag along and we were able to get a bit of time to explore the city as well as spend time in training.
We stayed at a hostal for two nights, rode on the backs of motorcycles all around the city, ate out, ate dinner at 8pm and wandered around at 10pm. It was a little flash back to life prior to kids. It was certainly fun and a bit adventurous for us.
The first full day we walked 20 -30 minutes from the hostal to the genocide memorial. That afternoon, the owner of our hostal, David, drove us outside of town about 40 minutes to visit two other memorial sites. It was a completely emotionally exhausting day. It was a sobering feeling walking around and thinking that almost every single person you saw on the streets, working in the shops, eating out, driving motorcycles, etc had been affected by the genocide. If they were 20 or older, they lived through it. They had maybe lost loved ones. Perhaps they even were injured, tortured, beaten. It's possible that some of the people we saw and met had loved ones who were perpetrators.
I'll post few pictures of that first day below.
Some of the pictures, I honestly couldn't even post here. I can barely look at them myself...the blood-stained wall children were bashed against... Some things I saw I couldn't even take pictures of...the pole stuck up and through women used to kill them after they had been raped...
I find it hard to believe someone could doubt the utter depravity and brokenness of mankind after visiting these sites.
It was a bit surreal at points during the visit. We were the only people visiting the churches. The guides spoke very matter of factly,  which of course, is their job. They repeat this information daily and have had to live with it for 20 years. And there I am, trying to stifle back the ugly cry, tears pouring down my cheeks, unable to imagine. The birds sung in the background. Little kids riding bikes passed on the road outside the fence. The sun was shining and the weather was beautiful. Children were walking home from school. And there we were looking at bones and coffins and clothes and school workbooks and shoes and holes blasted into walls and bullet holes everywhere and busted doors and dishes and weapons and blood-stained walls. And what kept coming to my mind?
I'm still processing it all, to be honest. Will post more pictures another day.
For more information on the history of the Rwandan genocide, please visit the memorial site here:

wall of names. A majority of it is empty as there are so many unidentified victims yet.

Flowers left in memory at one of the mass grave.

In one of the gardens at the memorial. Elephants are known for their great memory.
This one has a phone so he can call the rest of the world to tell them what has happened.

The first church we visited. The government has built roofs overtop the churches
so they can continue to be used as memorials.

This is the Sunday School classroom.

The kitchen where people were burned to death.

The clothes of the victims have been left in the churches.