Thursday

Potpourri - Professor E-H

Greetings from Kigali! We've had a jam packed week, but I think things are going very well. Yesterday was filled with visits to the Gashora Sector to hear about Vision 2020, the government's plan to eradicate poverty by the year 2020 and the challenges faced by rural communities; a maize cooperative that works with the UN's World Food Programme; a local collective bank, essentially what we would know as a credit union; the Gashora Girls Academy; and Mbyo reconciliation Village, where survivors and perpetrators live together, working toward reconciliation.

Re the latter, check out either www.asweforgivemovie.com or www.livingbrickscampaign.org to learn more, including a trailer for the film. You will, I think, find it an amazing story. "As We Forgive" was one of the first, if not the first, documentaries I saw that focused on restorative justice in Rwanda. As we were leaving the site yesterday and several men were shaking our hands, I was stunned to realize that I was sure I recognized one of the residents who had been featured in the film. And, shockingly, I remembered his name. That's not typical for me. Clearly, the film had stayed with me more than I had realized. I asked one of our guides, Yvan, to ask this fellow if he had been in a film; if his name was Saveri. Sure enough, it was. It was so bizarre to have watched a film in North America and, several years later, to be standing in rural Rwanda face to face with one of the individuals profiled in the film.

More of the small world... In what I think was 2009, while living in Canada, I had the good fortune to hear Florence Ntakarutimana speak about the reconciliation workshops sponsored by the African Great Lakes Initiative. That was when I first saw part of Patrick Mureithi's film, "Icyizere: hope" (www.josiahfilms.com). He's the filmmaker that, with my First Year Seminar class and the support of several colleagues, I brought to campus last November. I highly recommend it. But, I digress... It was quite fun to have heard Ms. Ntakarutimana speak in Fredericton, New Brunswick and to meet people today, here in Kigali, who know her. It really does make the world feel quite small.


This fellow, above, spoke to us about having killed during the 1994 genocide and his process of reconciliation. He lives in Mbyo with other perpetrators and survivors.


This is the type of home built by perpetrators for survivors and themselves, often with the help of survivors.


And, just for something light - have you had your banana today?

Tomorrow morning we hear from a representative of the National Service of Gacaca Courts. The students then have the afternoon free. Some will lounge by the pool at the Hotel des Milles Collines - aka 'Hotel Rwanda' - while at least one student plans to pass on that leisure activity to return to the Children's Peace Library. Then, on Saturday we head to Akagera National Park for a weekend of recreation - aka safari.

Also, a note to parents - I don't know what our Internet access will be like once we leave Kigali so if the blog goes silent for a bit, don't panic. It just means we're having trouble with access!

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