April is a difficult month for survivors. It marks the anniversary of the genocide, and the beginning of the period of mourning which runs until July.
In both Rwanda and the UK, there are a number of commemorations to mark the anniversary. Where possible, SURF tries to provide support – whether that be financially, or just by being in attendance.
Sam Munderere, a programme manager at SURF Rwanda, attended a commemoration in Nyanza, in the Southern Province of Rwanda. The commemoration remembered those victims of the genocide who were thrown into the local river, many like Athanasia Musabyimana, whilst still alive. Athanasia, now a nurse, was fortunate. She survived, as due to a machete wound the killers left her for dead. Her husband died in the river.
Sam offered the following reflection on the commemoration:
Where do survivors get the power to face their everyday undefeatable challenges? Where do they get the power to live normally again despite the vacuum of inimitable loss? How do they deal with the many setbacks and obstacles on their path? Where do they get the power to laugh and sing?
I ask these questions because there are people in the world who are having a hard time accepting the reality that befell Tutsis.
I am filled with admiration because these innocent survivors, who are mostly widows and orphans, have proved so strong in rebuilding their lives.
Their bodies and families may have been broken, but their remarkable reserves of courage have enabled them to win a resounding victory against the loathing and violence of the killers.
SURF this month has supported a number of commemoration events in the UK, in Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham and London, made possible due to funding from the Awards for All programme of the BIG Lottery Fund.
The commemoration period continues into May, and SURF’s work to remember the victims of the genocide – and to support the survivors – continues too.