Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 2: Kigali and More Family Time

Today we had some time away from ASYV when we drove to to the capital of Rwanda, Kigali. In Kigali we had the chance to visit the Rwandan genocide memorial and museum. The outdoor section of the memorial houses the graves of over 200,000 victims of the genocide. The indoor section was the museum and included exhibits explaining the situation leading up the genocide and how Rwanda has recovered and rebuilt. For me, the most difficult part of the museum was looking at the personal belongings of victims found in mass graves after the genocide. It really caused me to develop a personal connection to the tragedy. While it was difficult to transition to another activity after the memorial, we all took some time to reflect on the bus and continued to lunch in Kigali. When we returned to the ASYV we got to spend more time with out families. For family time in my house, some of the brothers presented reports on a topic of their choice to practice their english. It was really cool to see all of them practicing their english even after school and I really felt they were passionate about what they were talking about. I cannot wait for tomorrow to get to spend time on the farm!


Yesterday we ventured into Kigali for the first time since landing in Rwanda, finally able to see the city in the daylight. Our second stop, after picking up Sanya's long lost baggage from the airport, was the city's genocide memorial. It was a beautiful garden and museum dedicated to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis and served as an educational establishment and a burial site for victim's families to visit for comfort. To me, the visit to the memorial was the first time since arriving that I started to feel some of my goals for the visit were being accomplished. In this specific case, it was the desire to change my perception of the genocide from an academic and distant historical event to a tangible reality. Even though I was well aware the genocide had been real and many had suffered, it wasn't until I saw the room of skulls and the room of pictures that I really felt the magnitude of Rwanda's history. The bones were a shocking symbol of real tragedy. The thousands of faces hung in the room of pictures replaced the statistics in academic history with the humanity of real life. It was a difficult transition, and wildly moving, but it was also a beautiful one; I am finally feeling that the reason I came here is being legitimized. I look forward to the rest of the week with my village family and to our future adventures outside of ASYV. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. It must have been difficult to visit the memorial in Kigali. As Itamar mentioned, seeing the victims' personal possessions would bring it all home. I experienced similar feelings when looking at the pile of shoes at D.C.'s Holocaust Museum. It is good to know that the rebuilding and recovery are on-going. Thank you for sharing your experiences.