Today, Tuesday 7th April, marks the UN International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda which this year will not be marked by any public events, due to Covid-19, but instead by a series of virtual and media events in Rwanda and worldwide. The media in Rwanda will play a key role in broadcasting programmes to mark the commemoration, including a series of programmes on 12th April on fighting trauma which will feature SURF partners, including AVEGA.
Survivors Fund (SURF) has been collaborating with the artist and photgrapher Chrystal Ding, who today publishes a series of photographs as a project entitled Yours Is Going To Be Healed As Well, which focuses on SURF’s youth counselling project (run in partnership with AERG and Network for Africa) to mark the commemoration. This is through funding received as winner of the Rebecca Vassie Memorial Award.
Chrystal spent two weeks in Rwanda taking portraits and landscape photos and collecting handwritten responses from participants in the youth counselling sessions which are facilitated by AERG in a project coordianted by Survivors Fund (SURF), with funding from Network for Africa .
Sitting in on five sessions led by Rwandan counsellors, Chrystal heard many stories of horror as the participants recalled the trauma they had experienced as children. Many lost their parents and siblings.
“As someone who lives with their own ongoing mental health difficulties, which I have to keep tabs on, this photography project has been hard,” she says.
“I don’t think I could be prepared for how affecting it was – just to hear story after story of horrible things happening to people.”
A selection of the photographs are published by BBC News Online. Chrystal will be taking over the Rebecca Vassie Trust Instagram Account from 7th to 12th April where she will be publishing further images from the project.
We wish all survivors and their families strength over the commemoration period ahead, made particularly difficult this year due to the ongoing impact of the lockdown resulting from COVID-19, and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this even more difficult time.