Life in a Mirror

Life in a Mirror

The genocide in Rwanda resulted in the deaths of over a million people within 100 days while the international community watched and did nothing. How many times have we said, ” Never again”! Did it leave a stain on the world’s conscience? Death was not the only outcome.Tens of thousands of people had been tortured, mutilated and raped. Tens of thousands suffered machete cuts, bullet wounds, infection and starvation.


The persecution of Tutsis and Hutu moderates which started in 1990 and waves of massacres acted as a precursor to the genocide. The persecution, though barely recognised by the outside world, was an early indication of what was to come. Genocide was instant! The perpetrators had promised an apocalypse and the operation which emerged was a devastating frenzy of violence, bloodshed and merciless killing. No Tutsi was exempt. There were thousands of widows Many had been victims of rape and sexual abuse or had seen their own children murdered.


I went back three years later and visited some villages where NGOs were doing some great work. I met a few women who had been victims of terrible violence. Laurence, a frail looking woman scarred for life, led me to her place. As I walked into the sparsely furnished room, a cracked mirror on the wall caught my attention. As if reading my mind, she said in Kirundi……” Looking everyday at my face reminds me that I am still alive and I have one more day with my son”. I glanced, through the small window, at the little boy playing in the mud with his friends unaware of the unfolding tragedy. As I was leaving Laurence caught my hand and when  I turned our eyes locked. I understood. Less than a year after meeting her, I got news that Laurence had passed on. I had a promise to fulfill.

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