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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid