GAERG identifies 7,797 wiped families so far
Written by: Daniel Tuyizere
Thursday, April 12th, 2018, 18:34
Rwandan graduates that are bought together under GAERG say some of the activities they do to reinforce memory of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi include keeping record and honouring the families that were completely exterminated, which they identify after profound research. GAERG is a French acronym for the association of survivors of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who have completed University education it was founded in 2003.
Every year GAERG pays homage to families that were wiped. This year they have planned to pay tribute to such families in Ngoma District and Kirehe District especially at Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial Site which is known for its history of big number of Tutsis who were killed there.
When they go to a place they hold prayers, discussions and have presentations on different topics that reinforce commemoration. Others activities include showing documentary films showing families that were wiped during the genocide and commemoration songs in which names of members of the perished families are recited.
The families are remembered under the theme, “You Will Never Be Forgotten While I Am Still Alive”.
GAERG has so far identified 7,797 families and 34,823 individual family members in 17 districts. They told The Light Magazine that their target is to have their activities roll out in all the 30 districts of Rwanda.
Fidel Nsengiyaremye, the Executive Secretary of this organisation, whose core mission is to sustain memory of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi they invest enormous efforts in sensitising Rwandans and the entire international community to remember it. They among others explain why communities need to get rid of the genocide ideology through clear understanding of the adverse impact on the unity of Rwandans in particular.
They passionately teach about its power in dividing the Rwanda people as well as the merits of having a seamless and united Rwandan society in social and economic transformation.
“We teach Rwandans at the grassroots level the danger of genocide ideology and our mission is to have every citizen understand the danger of genocide ideology to the unity and progress of the Rwanda society, that is why we emphasize on remembering the painful memories and effects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” observed Nsengiyaremye.
To preserve the memory of the genocide against the Tutsi, members of GAERG do profound research and publish findings alongside writing books on the 1994 Genocide to avoid genocide denials reinvent the history of Rwanda and a repeat of the same. Being members subscribing to the world of the academia, their books carry memorable and moving testimonies of the 1994 genocide survivors, families that were wiped and how the genocide was masterminded and executed by the genocide regimes.
In their works we find practical experiences of how the survivors’ resilience has been crucial in their struggle to transform their livelihoods and how they aim at a better living against all odds.
“Much as we appreciate that it is a painful experience and quite challenging for most of our members to catch up with the sad consequences of the genocide we promote remembering of the dear families were exterminated and the more we do it the more we cultivate clear understanding of the dangers of genocide to the Rwandan society and the world in general,” observed Nsengiyaremye.
The commemoration of 1994 Genocide provides an opportunity for survivors to appreciate the social dent that was created by the heinous history. Hence, this richly facilitates to the fact that every Rwanda must be committed to the never again philosophy beyond words.
The members of this association are organised in families and every family has a father, a mother and children. These simulated families were created on realization that many child survivors were suffering from loneliness and had lived in seclusion a situation that had denied them a chance to reintegrate into the Rwandan society and cope with a horde of social and economic challenges.
“These families have been a source of comfortable and a sense of belongingness to many of us and people do not go away and feel alone since people feel they belong to a family where they have brothers, sisters and parents to care for them,” added Nsengiyaremye.
The meetings have a healing effect to the survivors who could experience doldrums of trauma, depression and all kinds of bad moods following the tough times they had gone through. Thus, GAERG members have grown to appreciate how to help one another in order to minimise the effects different challenges and consequences traced to 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
This is a good time for us as intellectuals to preserve the memory of the genocide even though it is not only our role as a genocide survivors’ association, all in order to help the future generations understand the atrocities that the country had faced.
As the last stage of genocide is denial where the perpetrators try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses by doing different worse activities like destroying the mass graves, burn the remains of the victims, deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims, the Rwandan graduate Genocide survivors put much emphasis on eradicating genocide ideology by teaching the truth about the genocide against Tutsis through telling real stories.
To fight against such attacks, they intervene in public talks around the globe in order to fight against perpetrators and their supporters who always publish false information and spread lies in order to hide their role in genocide.
“we were very young by the time the genocide happened but today we are able to tell our own stories and show the world what exactly happened in our country during the genocide against Tutsi in 1994,” notes Nsengiyaremye.
Sometimes when a person went throughout tragedies like the genocide perpetrated against Tutsis, always is somehow scared and is afraid that it could happen again; but as the country supports genocide survivors, comforts them so as to increase their hope for a better life. Members of GAERG are comfortable and working hard to develop themselves as well as their country.
“Today, we are not scared about our lives since we have a good government that loves and cares about us; but as survivors and perpetrators live together in the same community, sometimes it is not easy but with the good vision of the country that is led by a visionary leader, we try our best to live in harmony with one focus - which is to develop our country without divisionism and genocide ideology”.
Genocide survivors see a better future
Last year, during the 23rd commemoration, President Kagame assured the survivors that they have lost their families but had never lost their country.
“To remember is a must. And in remembering, I would like to tell genocide survivors that they are not alone. They lost family. But, there’s one family they didn’t lose—their country. Rwanda is the family of survivors. It’s the family of every Rwandan” President Kagame said.
Hence, the survivors struggle every passing day to make their future brighter by working harder to create different projects that can help them be self-reliant besides contributing to national development. Today, many of them are employed in private, public and civil societies.
Concerning the 24th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, GAERG urges all Rwandans to take part in commemoration activities and understand that they are not only meant for survivors, but also the entire community. They, also, call on Rwandans and the entire international community to direct more commitment to the “Never Again” stance through fighting genocide ideology and ensuring justice is done.
“We request the genocide survivors to be strong enough and participate actively in different commemoration activities so that we sustain the memory of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi”.