In the space of a hundred days, a million Tutsi in Rwanda were slaughtered by their Hutu neighbors. At the height of the genocide, as men with bloody machetes ransacked her home, Denise Uwimana gave birth to her third son. With the unlikely help of Hutu Good Samaritans, she and her children survived. Her husband and other family members were not as lucky.
If this were only a memoir of those chilling days and the long, hard road to personal healing and freedom from her past, it would be remarkable enough. But Uwimana didn’t stop there. Leaving a secure job in business, she devoted the rest of her life to restoring her country by empowering other genocide widows to band together, tell their stories, find healing, and rebuild their lives. The stories she has uncovered through her work and recounted here illustrate the complex and unfinished work of truth-telling, recovery, and reconciliation that may be Rwanda’s lasting legacy. Rising above their nation’s past, Rwanda’s genocide survivors are teaching the world the secret to healing the wound of war and ethnic conflict.
Sakina Denise Uwimana-Reinhardt was born to Rwandan immigrant parents in Burundi. She later moved to Rwanda, where she met her husband, Charles. When she was twenty-nine, she survived the Rwandan genocide of 1994 with her three sons; her husband was killed. After finding personal healing and reconciliation, she went on to found Iriba Shalom International, an organization that provides material and spiritual help to genocide survivors. She remarried and now lives with her husband, Dr. Wolfgang Reinhardt, in Kassel, Germany. Together they continue to work for healing in Rwanda.