Every year on April 7th, candles are lit to honor more than one million lives lost, and Rwanda begins a 100 day mourning period honoring deep loss, but also healing and progress. This year, we spoke with Health Builders employee Callixte Nizeyimana, a driver in the Rulindo District since 2017. He shared his story with us.
I was 12 years old, one of 11 kids, living with my mother in Rukumberi in 1994. On April 7, when the genocide began, intellectuals and their families were killed first, which included my aunt’s family. My mom, three siblings and I went to a chapel where my mother loved to go for prayer, and found many other people. We prayed the whole night until morning. On April 8, I left the chapel, fearing we would be found. At home, on April 11, we heard that they had killed all the people who were at the chapel where we had escaped, including my mother, and understood how serious the situation had become.From then all I did was run, hiding and then going back home because they didn’t kill in the night. But we were always on guard. I was with two of my brothers but we hid in different places. At the end of April I found my father and on May 2, the Inkotanyi (Rwandan Patriotic Front) saved us. In our family, only our father and four kids survived.
When I was getting married that’s when the loss struck hard. I had no parents to celebrate with. I felt similarly when I had my son. I always wonder how it would be if all my family was still alive. I have completely forgotten how my mother looked, I have no photo of her. What gives me hope are my child and recreating my family, I have a house of my own, and a job that earns me a living. I am really proud of where I am now.
Our profound thanks to Health Builders employee Callixte Nizeyimana for sharing his powerful story. Thank you to our partners, funders, and the Ministry of Health for allowing us to continue our mission of rebuilding and healing, one village at a time.