The Woman I Will Never Forget

This week I met a woman that I will never forget. I will never forget her face. I will never forget the way she made me feel. I will never forget the lessons she taught me.

I met her atop one of the most beautiful hills in Rwanda, overlooking more hills and valleys of the countryside. I met her at the site of what was intended to be a technical school. She was sent to this location in 1994 to be protected from the harsh killings. She was among 50,000 that were told they would be protected. Within the first two weeks of her arrival, she had been refused food, water, and proper sanitation areas. Before she could starve to death though, those that said they would protect her arrived on site. Those people came to this school, a place considered safe, to slaughter the 50,000 Tutsis, including the woman I met. Within weeks, thousands upon thousands of bodies were piled into mass graves on the side of the hill. Then, French soldiers arrived as a part of Project Turquoise that successfully protected thousands of Hutu refugees that had been perpetrators of the genocide. These French soldiers placed their flag just feet away from where I met that woman, near where she had been brutally murdered, and played games of volleyball almost directly beside where the mass graves were still fresh with dead Tutsis. The French, knowing these atrocities, continued to provide help to the perpetrators and the government that began the killings. Once the French had left their post on the top of this hill, survivors of the genocide came upon the thousands of bodies buried and extracted them in order to preserve them.

I met that woman in that state of preservation, her body and face frozen in the clear expression of fear. Her mouth was wide open as if before her was an unimaginable monster. Her body was shriveled and white due to the lime used to preserve her and tell her story of her last minutes on earth. She was surrounded by many just like her on beds in this first room. There are 24 rooms just like it that house the bodies of just a fraction of those killed upon this hill of Murambi. I can do little justice to what I felt when I saw the bodies or smelled the combination of death and preservation. What I can do, though, is remember. I understand this post may seem graphic and depressing but there are still deniers of this genocide spreading lies across Rwanda, Africa, and the world. These memorials, like Murambi in Huye (formerly Butare), Rwanda are important to keep the stories of hundreds of thousands, including this woman’s, preserved. We get nowhere by dismissing or minimizing the real stories of history except to allow them to happen again and again. Reading this may be hard, and it has been hard writing it, but its importance is far beyond our discomfort. Thank you so much for following my discoveries here and please know that my spirit remains optimistic towards our future.

This week I met a woman that I will never forget. I will never forget her face. I will never forget the way she made me feel. I will never forget the lessons she taught me.

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2 thoughts on “The Woman I Will Never Forget

  1. Hi Buddy! This is such a remarkable post and it motivated me to tell you how proud we all are of you. Thank you for being the person you are..Oh, and by the way, Happy Belated Birthday yesterday. Hope you had a wonderful day.

    Like

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