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"Let's educate youths to responsibility"

Yolande Mukagasana and reconstruction in Rwanda

Yolande Mukagasana (picture by Gariwo)

Yolande Mukagasana (picture by Gariwo)

Today's youths are the hope for Rwanda's future. Yolande Mukagasana runs a state programme to help reconstruction 20 years after the genocide, and is also the chairwoman of GARIRWA, the association for the Righteous in Rwanda, that is gaining more and more followers.

Can you describe your activity with young people and women in Rwanda? 

I work within the framework of a state programme, which hired a person for the activities of representation of the survivors' interests. For example I visit the plaintiffs of land trials, for example orphans who were stolen their land property. I help them obtain justice. I visit the ill or those who have nothing to eat. Many survivors have nothing more, not even food. The survivors' life is extremely difficult, many of them are homeless, there are young people who have no access to university and cannot manage to find a job. 

Which role do women play? 

Fortunately there are very active women, including Rwanda's first lady, who work hard in favor of the survivors and the other women. 

Are the activities targeted only to tutsis or for instance to the families of the moderate hutus who were killed during the genocide? 

Aid is provided to everybody, there is no more ethnic ID card, everybody is Rwandan and there are people needing help all over the country, no matter their ethnicity. Otherwise it would be like saying that the persecutors were right. The ethnic difference exists only in the eyes of the genocide planners and executioners, but nowadays everybody does everything with everybody else. It is the West that keeps on proposing again this ethnic drama. 

At what stage is the moral and physical reconstruction in Rwanda? 

Reconstruction is carried out in many different ways. Also our association of the Righteous, which is being joined by more and more people, works for the reconstruction. Here we had torebuild everything from scratch because there was nothing left after genocide. The state faced reconstruction from different points of view, for example psychotherapists were trained to help those who have been traumatized, included the children. 

Can you describe the project about the Righteous in Rwanda? 

The project about the Righteous is particularly important, because without the Righteous there would also be no survivors. The country would have belonged only to the murderers. Instead a Righteous person in the family can educate the rest of the family. We started from the issue of fighting evil to then also say that there were Righteous people among the hutus. We have more and more followers. 

So the Righteous help both reconciliation and reconstruction?

We can say so, but it is still uncertain. Let's say that it will be so if we manage to carry out a good educational work of education to responsible citizenship. We have built a maternal school which starts from age 4. But these schools are not state funded and are expensive. There is much to do, but with our programme we created a school that invests in the values of Rwandan identity. 

Can we draw a message of hope from your experience with these children? 

Rwanda's hope are today's children, who must learn about responsibility so that we can create a country where love, and not hate, reigns.

4 April 2014

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Rwanda 1994

the extermination of Tutsis and moderate Hutus

From 6 April to 16 July 1994 Rwanda, a small country of Central Africa's region of the Great Lakes, was the scene of the genocide against the Tutsis and the moderate Hutus perpetrated by the extremists of the Hutu Power and the members of Akazu.
The region of Rwanda-Burundi, which was explored at the end of the Nineteenth century by the Germans, is assigned by the Society of Nations to Belgium for a mandate, in 1924. Fortified by the physiognomic theories of the Nineteenth century, Belgians placed their trust on the Tutsi ethnic group, which had conquered the crown around the Sixteenth century, unifying the country and establishing a feudal regome subjugating Hutus and Twas. In 1933 Belgians added the ethnical belonging to the Tutsis or Hutus to the data of the Rwandan ID cards.

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Yolande Mukagasana

a survivor and witness from Rwanda