I've bee having trouble finding words to describe the experience at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. Words seem wholly inadequate. Powerful. Emotional. Overwhelming. I had hoped to have a better understanding of "why" but I only have more questions. I was drained when I left, emotionally and physically. Reading about the events leading up to the 1994 Genocide was shocking. I hadn't realized that this was not the first genocide attempt in Rwanda's recent history. The conditions that preceded the 1994 Genocide so closely mirrored those of the Holocaust that one can't help but wonder how the world could possibly let this happen. Over one million people?! Yet world leaders debated the value of intervention?! So senseless. Such insanity.
Most striking for me were the images of child survivors bearing horrific wounds. Wide, deep gashes on the head. severed limbs...who inflicts this upon a child? Knowing that so many were killed so violently was overwhelming for me. To imagine the hatred, the violence, the terror faced by so many children in their final moments, at the hands of people with whom they lived side by side is baffling to me. What in this world is more beautiful, more life-affirming, more symbolic of hope than a child? To destroy that beauty, to end that life, to eliminate that hope is surely an act born of pure evil. What drives a person to this violence, this hatred? Desperation? Fueled by propaganda? Brainwashing? It can only be brainwashing. Still, I believe in the goodness of people. As I write this, I can hear the sounds of children playfully shouting and laughing in the valley below. It comforts me and reaffirms my belief in the inherent goodness of the human spirit.