A Visit to Rwanda

2 Aug 2009

The past 3 weeks in Rwanda have been a happy time, and a sad time.

Attending the graduation of the 12 students SURF has sponsored through UNILAK was a happy time. Attending the funeral of the parents of our Co-Chair, Liliane Umubyeyi, was certainly a sad time.

A visit to Rwanda is often an experience of mixed emotions. As the Times of India reports, the situation for many survivors continues to be precarious. However, through the work of the survivors’ organisations that SURF partners, such as IBUKA and AVEGA, one can evidence how it is possible to make a difference – in particular through the solidarity and support that such groups offer.

SURF tradionally has not worked often with volunteers, but over the past 2 weeks the contribution made by the Conservative Party group has been remarkable. Reading through the Graduate Career Development Guide that they have developed, as well as sitting in on the presentations that they have given to hundreds of students, there will be a legacy to the project that will benefit young survivors long after their departure.  For that we are grateful.

Though such educational projects are vital, so is the ongoing work on burial that SURF is able to undertake through the support of Comic Relief. The funeral last weekend for Liliane’s parents, was held at the Never Again memorial site, adjacent to SURF’s new Survivor’s Centre in Kamonyi. The strength of Liliane, as well as the other survivors who participated in the ceremony, was remarkable. Though the genocide was 15 years ago, the emotional scars are still raw. However, as we learned that day from the survivors – though it is traumatic to hold such a funeral, it is ultimately for the best knowing that family has finally been laid to rest with dignity.

Towards both these ends, the burial of the victims and education of the survivors, SURF will continue to strive.