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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs