Today we went to the Widow’s Projects, where they have four building and where we meet a women widowed by the Genocide.Today most of the widows were not there, but one of them, Ms. Odette, welcomed us and showed us around. We saw where they kept over 1500 chickens! The chickens produce over a thousand eggs a day and the widows sell the eggs to make a profit so they have the essentials to live. These widows went through so much watching their families being killed but now are so strong and its inspiring to see how forgiving they are. After we looked around she told us that the widows come on Mondays and Wednesdays to meet; knowing that they have to live with that everyday and choosing to be forgiving is mind-blowing. Later we left and went to a memorial from the Genocide.
The Memorial was a church building that acted as a refuge for the killings in 1959, when the Genocide started, victims sought refuge in the church, but the door was breached and everyone inside had been murdered. Today in the church they have the clothes of the people who were murdered and artifacts that were recovered like papers, jewelry and identification cards. Inside the church they have a place underground where there are skulls, and looking at the skulls you could see that some where shot or burned. Witnessing this is difficult because it is hard to fathom what they went through during this unbelievable time; you can feel the pain in your heart for these families as you walk through the memorial. The memorial also held a coffin with a body to commemorate the woman and young girls who were victims of the Genocide. These woman went through a lot of physical pain as well as emotional pain and it breaks my heart that others from different countries didn’t reach out and help them. Its really sad the specifically our country, did not do anything for them. At the side of the memorial church they have two graves. One was for a woman named Antonia Catelli who lived close to the church during the Genocide and she was from another country. She helped provide refuge for a lot of victims, but later some people found out she was helping them and then shot and killed her. Behind the church they had two mass graves with coffins with remains from people who were killed.
Going inside and seeing just how many bones there were and knowing that was only a small fraction of all the people who were killed was heartbreaking. Later in the day, we went to another memorial and watched a few videos of testimonies from victims along with a tour addressing the horrific activity occurring during this time; as you walk through and read, could feel their pain. The memorial hopes to make a difference and to further prevent this situation from happening. During the tour they provided history on the Genocide and more mass graves. They also built a section of the memorial to commemorate the children that had been brutally murdered and provided characteristics about them; again our hearts were heavy as we read through these innocent children’s stories. Within a hundred days, more than one million people were killed and at that specific memorial, they held a quarter of million of bodies in many mass graves and a wall with over two thousand names of victims.
Visiting these memorials wasn’t easy but necessary, we learned so much and gives an inside perspective. It was very impactful to see all these victims and what they went threw and I can’t begin to imagine how these people overcame and continue to everyday. On our way back to the apartments we stopped to pick the water jugs to fill them up, Nick and Hope (Anastase’s son) filled them up while the rest of the team waited in the bus. While we were waiting, we got to talk to some kids out the window we gave high fives and fists bumps to the kids, adults, and a couple people on motorcycles. Once we got back we hung out for a while and later a group of us went to a balcony of the top floor of a hotel next to us to take pictures while the sun set. Then we walked to a art museum close by and see some very beautiful art work.