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The larger picture…

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The larger picture...

The previous picture/map of Rwanda gives a good sense of where places are in the country, but this map of Africa gives a real sense of not only the location of Rwanda on the continent of Africa but its size in comparison to its surrounding countries. Zaire is easy to spot on this map. Once you find Zaire look along its Eastern border you will see a peach coloured “speck” that is Rwanda, with Kigali starred for its capital. That’s our destination!


Where the heck is Rwanda?

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Where the heck is Rwanda?

Rwanda is a very small country, just over 26000 square km, in sub-sahara Africa. We will be in various parts of the country. Kigali, which is the largest city, Bugesera, Nyanza, Nyamata, Ntarama, Akagera Park, Nyarubuye, Butare, Bisesero, and Kibuye on Lake Kivu.

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Ten More Sleeps

As I prepare to go to bed this evening I am overwhelmingly aware of how much needs to happen in the next week or so.  Leone and I leave for Rwanda in ten more sleeps.  I have taken a break from my reading about Rwanda.  I was beginning to have nightmares and thought a reprieve was needed.  I’m sure nightmares will come again while we are there.

All of the books have been good though and I still have a long list that I will eventually get to.  A few that I would suggest are:

Life Laid Bare (stories of survivors), Machete Season (stories of the killers), and the Antelope’s Strategy (about life after the genocide).  All are by Jean Hatzfeld.

Another, perhaps lesser known, film that is of interest is Sometimes In April.;_ylt=A2KLqII0r6NT2UAALkT7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTB2ZWRjbjNtBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDVjE2MQRncG9zAzE-?p=sometimes+in+april+movie&vid=98036c2bfd55dbd772f925d26ae45d32&l=2%3A20%3A35&

This was filmed in Rwanda so gives a good sense of the country.  It is a good example of what life would be like after the genocide, what survivors have had to deal with and It also briefly shows the gacaca trials that finished 2-3 years ago.  A very different justice system then we know here in Canada.

A few more things to purchase and of course making sure I have everything to also meet with the people of the Hope Fund.  Students at STM have made a few videos and we will bring pictures from our last four pilgrimages.  Looking forward to making this connection.

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Ghosts of Rwanda

Ghosts of Rwanda

This documentary is now 10 years old but it is still relevant.  We will see many of these places on our travels and it will be interesting to compare what has happened in the last 10 years.  It begins with Romeo Dallaire.  If you do not know who he is… you should do a quick search.  In my opinion, he is one of the finest Canadians and if you have heard anything about Rwanda and the genocide I would say that his name was not too far behind.  The better known movie and book “Shake Hands With the Devil” tells his story.  Carl Wilkens is also someone to take note of.  He was the last American in Rwanda and his book is “I’m Not Leaving”.  Finally, the story of Captain Mbaye Diagne is also inspiring…

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Making Connections

June 1:  I leave for Rwanda in 29 days or 28 sleeps.

My Baba used to say that “the Lord works in mysterious ways”… so true.

I was at a conference on Friday and happened to attend a workshop on global citizenship.  I was fortunate to meet Debbie Bodkin, a retired sergeant who had been to Kosovo, Darfur, and Rwanda.  In fact, she was on the trip a few years ago that my friend Leone went on.  A reminder of the small world we live in.  I am grateful to Debbie for her words and hope to stay connected with her.

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Preparing for Rwanda

How do I prepare for this trip? This experience? It is not a vacation or a time to get away, relax, see the sites! What the hell am I doing? I must be nuts to be leaving a perfectly safe country like Canada to go to a place where I could die if bitten by a mosquito. A place where the culture is completely different and I could get deathly ill by drinking the water. What the hell was I thinking when I signed up for this?

Then again, it’s not that crazy. I have been preparing. For months I have been reading books, watching videos and trying to wrap my head around this place, this atrocity, this genocide, and what has happened in the last 20 years.

I am prepared in as far as I have had all of my shots. I have my malaria pills and mosquito net. Everything on my packing list has been purchased and packed. But, I am not prepared. I don’t know how I can be. I know our tentative itinerary of places to go and things to do, with the list of memorials we will see each day. I know stories of several survivors, but this does not make me ready. What else can I do to prepare?

Then there is still part of me that is excited. I am going to a new continent. I am going to Africa! A place I have only dreamed about. It will be a new experience. I will meet new people, see new things, and learn.  For all of this I am grateful.

But I will be learning about… well, about evil. The sites I will be seeing will be to pay respect to the dead, the massacred. I will meet people who helped save others. I will meet survivors and I will hear their stories. And I will most likely meet people who were the killers.

I hope to hear about reconciliation and reconstruction. I hope to learn of the progress in the last 20 years. I expect this experience to be profound and to have an impact on my heart and on my soul that I cannot yet, if ever, describe in words. No. I am not prepared, but I am willing to venture out aware of my lack of preparedness.

Some of the books read so far:

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza

Led by Faith: Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide by Immaculee Ilibagiza

Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa by Immaculee Ilibagiza

The Men Who Killed Me: Rwandan Survivors of Sexual Violence by Anne-Marie de Brouwer

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch

God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation by Joseph Sebarenzi