Tuesday 29 July 2008
... a thousand smiles, and unfortunately 1 horrible war that killed over 1 million people in 100 days.
my visit to rwanda has been a weird one. I was chilling at a pool one day where, 14 years ago, hundreds of people in hiding were forced to drink from it in order to survive.
for anyone who hasn't seen the film hotel rwanda, i stayed at the hotel des mille collines, where 1 man saved hundreds of lives by hiding people in the hotel and giving everything he could to save them and his family. watch the film if u haven't seen it.
its a beautiful country, lush, green, clean... especially the country side... driving through it was lovely. was refreshing to see so much green and mountains and flowers. a change to the dusty, orange and dry buswelu or mwanza.
its hard to believe that something so awful happened here. its been my favourite place so far in africa... but also the place that's put me through a whole mix of emotions.
we drove to 2 genocide memorial churches, nyamata and ntarama. 10,000 people hid in one of the churches and only a handful survived. the man who was showing us about was 23, he was 9 when he was hiding in this church. he watched his family and everyone around him be killed with machetes, beaten to death, blown up by grenades and woman and children raped. he survived by hiding under the dead bodies for 3 days.
the place hasn't been touched apart from moving the skulls and bones downstairs, some in coffins and some stacked on shelves. their clothes have been left scattered on the church floor. the man showed one corner of the church where you can still see blood on the wall... where a baby was picked up by the ankles and repeatedely smacked on the wall till dead.
100 days this kind of stuff went on for... all because of their ethnic identity.
thousands of refugees are still too frightened to come back home. over 2.5 million people were displaced.
every person you see here (that's old enough) has been affected by it. either a victim or a killer... and everyone has lost someone they know because of it. imagine walking down the street and seeing someone you know who has killed. or passing someone whose relative or friend you were forced to kill. thats what its like for people here.
we also visited the memorial museum where, like the churches, was very disturbing. 28,000 bodies are buried there... still can't get my head around it. and displayed on the walls are photos of people who lost their lives, all ages from 9 months.
its one of the worst genocide in history to ever happen. warnings were raised months before it started but they were ignored. and no help was given. through guilt, rwanda eventually received international help... too much too late.
I'd come back to rwanda, we didn't get to see much of the city thanks to the crap tour office. they messed us about twice... and in the end we got no tour. so we just took a taxi to the memorial museum.
saturday was a public holiday till 1:00 so nothing was opened lol. we were lucky to get a taxi to the churches. and the first one was closed so we had to come back later.
the journey to get here has been an experience. getting there involved a bus, ferry, bus, taxi, walk to border, then mini bus. coming back has been tougher... bus, 2 dala dala's and a bus and taken about 17 hours. ended up staying in one of the towns last night because the dala dala's wasted time and made us miss the last bus to mwanza.
i have today, tomorrow and thursday at the orphanage then its my flight to nairobi on friday. will update more before I leave, travel plans have changed yet again lol... and hopefully upload some photos on friday