Today marks our 9th day here in Rwanda. Our day started off with a meeting, some currency exchanging followed by a visit to the Rwandan Genocide Memorial in Kigali. Death normally doesn't bother me a lot. I've been around it so much that I've become used to it. Working as a paramedic tends to give you that perspective. It's not numb, you just become used to not being used to it. Seeing death is like wearing an old pair of pants you dislike. They are comfortable even if you don't like them. Now, having said that this was my first visit to a genocide memorial. I've read a couple of books; seen a few movies but this was, as expected, different. You see the clothes on display taken from the bodies of their previous owners. You see the weapons used to commit these acts of atrocities. Then there are the stories. I kept it together for the most part until I would read a story. I lost track of how many times I would read a story from a survivor who said they would run to their neighbor for help only to be turned in by them and their family killed. They survived by playing dead or escaping. The look of disbelief on their face is hard for me to describe. These neighbors were the same friends who stopped by for their birthday or helped them with their daily chores. Now they were sending them to their death and in many cases taking their lives themselves. One survivor ends her story on a looped TV screen by pausing for a moment then closes by saying she has a hard time becoming close and trusting friends because of this.
|Photos of the victims line the walls of one room|
The last section was a memorial for the children. This section had no tattered clothes, or graphic pictures. There were no videos, skulls, or even stories. It was simple, and the most difficult. A picture of each child and below it a list for each one. A short list of their favorite things, like chasing their dad, favorite food and how they were killed. For the first time since I've been here I wished I could slip back home if just for a minute, to hug my two girls.
Than none would be lost,