A letter from Kay Day in Rwanda
Dear Family and Friends,
The month of April is a time of remembrance in Rwanda, remembrance of the genocide of 1994. Kwibuka—remember—is more than just thinking about the killings or naming the people who were killed. The remembering is for healing the wounds of the past; it is for looking to how to move forward; it is about pledging to never let such a thing happen again. The commemorations are held nationally, regionally, locally and personally. These are the things that have filled the whole of this last month. In the midst of that was Easter and even that glorious celebration took on a different tone and in some cases helped to set a tone for hope for the future, for life after death.
With all Rwandans, I attended many commemorations, but the most powerful for me was a personal one. I’ve told you about my friend Anysie before. She is a survivor of the genocide who is working personally to bring reconciliation to the community where her family was murdered. But in April she invited me to accompany her on a personal remembrance. She let me read the yet unpublished book she has written about her life, and then we talked about it. I have read many stories of the genocide as I prepared to understand this event that has shaped modern Rwanda, but none was as gripping as Anysie’s story. Maybe it was because I know her as a friend, or maybe it was her telling of the story. Her opening captures the poetry of the country and the brutality of the events of 1994, national and personal. She begins:
A day all my friends were killed,
A day when bodies were dumped in the river,
A day mothers were raped and fathers could not protect their children from slaughter,
A day churches were violated by blood and bullets, …
A day I was raped by men I knew and men I did not know,
A day my sister was hacked to death before my eyes,
A day I was taken in by strangers and shared a bed with a killer,
A day after which nothing will ever be the same.
Her story is the story of many survivors. But it does not end in brutality; rather, it ends in hope for a future in which this may never happen again. One of the reasons for remembering is that such a thing would never be again. “Never again” is a refrain of the commemorations. Rwanda will never be as it was before the genocide, but the hope in remembering is that such murder in the country and of the country may never be repeated. That is the prayer of all Rwandans. Please join us in that prayer.
Remembrance also involves participation in constructive ways that are rebuilding the country. For those who have not lived through it, 20 years seems like a long time to keep remembering, but for those for whom this is their story, 20 years is but yesterday and there is much that still needs to be done for there to be true healing. So communities continue to help survivors and forgiven perpetrators to rebuild their lives, with scholarships for schooling, with loans to establish businesses, with job opportunities, with workshops on healing, like the one PIASS will host this weekend. You can be involved with scholarship support for PIASS, where I teach. (See attached brochure.) You can continue to pray for the work here and all that God is doing to bring resurrection to Rwanda. Thank you for your support and for your commitment to me and to this ministry.
Yours in love,
Kay (Cathie to family)