News / Africa

Rwanda Genocide Survivors Share Memories with US Students

Rwandan Genocide Survivors Share Memories to Educate US Studentsi
X
Elizabeth Lee
April 03, 2014 11:36 PM
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, and there has been a global movement to remember and educate people about what happened. Some survivors are sharing their painful memories in the United States hoping students will listen and learn from what happened. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles
Elizabeth Lee
— This year marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, and there has been a global movement to remember and educate people about what happened.  Some survivors are sharing their painful memories in the United States, hoping students will listen and learn from what happened.

In front of a crowded room at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Yannick Tona recounts memories of horror and suffering most people would never experience.  He has been educating students around the world about what happened to his country of Rwanda 20 years ago, and what happened to his own family.   

“I remember the first time I saw the killing.  The first time I saw people been killed.  The first time I saw bodies," said Tona.

These firsts happened in Rwanda when Tona was only four years old.

“Hide in the bushes, hear people screaming, with machetes blood full of blood.  Bodies on the street everywhere," he said.

Tona’s one-year-old brother and grandmother were killed in the genocide.

Edith Umugiraneza struggled with the fact that she survived while her mother, brothers and many other relatives did not.

“Surviving for me was a problem.  Because I was blaming, 'Why did I survive why I did not go with others?' I had the question, 'Why, why?' all the time," said Umugiraneza.

Now living in the United States, she found healing through prayer and by sharing stories with other survivors

“It happened and we can not bring back our people so we have to move on and we have to help each other," she said.

Her story is a part of the video archive at the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education.  The Institute has been collecting video testimonies of genocide survivors in several countries.  For Rwanda, it aims to collect 500 testimonies.  So far, 65 are in its visual history archive.

The Institute is also involved with Kwibuka20, a series of events worldwide and in the virtual world that commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.  On the Kwibuka20 website, people can offer messages of hope and unity.

USC Shoah Foundation’s Stephen Smith is the Executive Director of Kwibuka20.

“People all around the world are coming together as a world community to reflect on what happened, but also to leave their voice and to make their point of view very clear about genocide in the world today what we can do about that how we can be involved," said Smith.

University student Gregory Irwin is passionate about getting involved after a research trip to Rwanda where he met survivors and heard their stories.

“I have been more driven to do something about genocide than ever," said Irwin.

Student Nora Snyder also went on the trip to Rwanda.

“Things like what happened in Rwanda are still going on in the world today and things will continue to happen unless we take the time to remember," said Snyder.

As a part of the Shoah Foundation Institute Student Association, they are remembering the genocide by organizing events on campus - including Yannick Tona’s and Edith Umugiraneza’s testimony.  The aim is to try to make students care enough to do something to prevent or stop any future genocides.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid