Young Genocide survivors on how they changed dark clouds.
By Jean D’Amour Mbonyinshuti, The New Times.
The resilience of young genocide survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi marks yet another success story.
The young survivors grouped under the Association of Genocide Survivor Students (AERG) talk of how they managed to see light in the seemingly dark clouds after the genocide.
They were speaking at an event to mark the association’s 21st anniversary last Friday in Kigali.
Some AERG members said the association helped restore hope among themselves.
“I am happy to be an AERG member, it has become a family where we discuss our issues and learn a lot from there. Through small families we learn a lot such as decision making, setting own goals and striving to achieve them,” said Querene Giramata from Butamwa College in Nyarugenge District.
Vincent Ntaganira, one of AERG founders said that 21 years down the road, he is proud that the wish to support young survivors was achieved and that now it has grown from 12 to over 40,000 members.
“Initially nobody could understand our motive but we grew up, now we have become men and women with values and we support each other,” he said.
AERG was formed by 12 young Genocide survivors who were then students at the former National University of Rwanda in Huye district in October 1996 to help young survivors rebuild homes and support each other.
AERG now has 41,151 members, including 21,398 females from over 40 higher learning institutions and 419 secondary schools.
Survivors who were children during the genocide have since grown into young men and women, acquired education that makes them ready to serve the country, according to Emmanuel Twahirwa, AERG coordinator.
Twahirwa thanked the government and other partners for being supportive over the years.
Speaking at the event, the Minister for Local Government Francis Kaboneka urged the young survivors to uphold discipline and work hard in order to shape their future.
Kaboneka hailed AERG members for having helped restore hope among Genocide survivors but stressed the need to maintain love and unity in order to ensure that all Rwandans live in harmony.
He observed that the current peace in the country is due to good leadership that promotes equality and inclusive development.
He urged the youth to ensure that the light that was lit guides them.
“You are responsible for shaping your future but it requires hard work and sacrifice. You must shun distractions and the temptation of wanting to live easy life,” Kaboneka told hundreds of the young survivors at the Amahoro Indoor Stadium.
“Our country came from far and nobody wants to go back in the darkness, this requires us, especially you the youth to use the abundant chances at your disposal to shape the future. You have a chance to study up to PhD level but you have to strive for that, you need to also choose STEM courses as they will help in our country’s development,” he noted.
The minister said that while it was the responsibility of the government to support all the Rwandans especially the vulnerable such as genocide survivors, young genocide survivors have been supportive after they created AERG.
He hailed the young survivors for their resilience and commitment to pick up themselves after the genocide orphaned them at a tender age.
“Some of you are mature enough and have established strong families, serving the nation in various positions. AERG gives us hope for a better future,” he said.
After the 1994 genocide, government created the Fund for the Support of Genocide Survivors (FARG), which has supported thousands of young survivors to acquire education from primary to university level.