After a few hours of driving through beautiful terrain and some (questionably treacherous) mountain ridges, we arrived at the Murambi Genocide Memorial. The memorial is situated at the top of a hill, with maybe the most stunning 360-degree view I’ve ever seen. However, the killings that took place at this school site reflect the complete opposite of this beauty. As we walked around the memorial grounds I could not fathom the statistic that 50,000 Rwandans were brutally killed within this fenced area during a span of 8 hours one morning in 1994. This memorial is unique for its preservation and presentation of victims’ bodies throughout some of the school’s rooms. Just a few feet away from the memorial’s fence is a small town with smiling children and an active community. This contrast illustrated the forgiveness and resiliency that exists in the lives of Rwandan people.
Going to Murambi was a difficult eye-opening experience that I was thrilled to have gone through despite the emotional challenge of walking through the genocide memorial. Traveling to the site was a transition from the daily life of the village, which allowed us to take in views of the Rwandan countryside and several towns along the way. When we finally arrived to the memorial, I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion, as many of the stories we had been discussing in the readings and throughout the trip came to life before me. We stood in the very place where about 50,000 men, women, and children were killed just 21 years ago, and remained preserved in the horrified states of their final moments. Walking past the bodies, blood-stained clothes, and mass grave sites was a moment to reflect on the reality of the experiences during the Rwandan genocide, the extend to which people were driven to such acts on their fellow humans, and the importance of remembering the moment so that it may truly never happen again.