"A Country of a Thousand Hills and Thousands of Opportunities"
What better quote, shared with us by a Health Builders staff member Benita Gwaneza, than the one in the title of this newsletter to capture the hope and resiliency of the people of Rwanda? Recently, we asked the younger staff – those who were born after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi – to tell us about their experiences. Well into the 100 days of commemoration and mourning of this horrific event, Health Builders reflects on where Rwandans were and how far they have come by sharing the hopes and dreams of young people as they help build a peaceful country, open and welcoming to all.
Growing up in the aftermath of the genocide left children afraid and anxious. Many did not have grandparents or extended family, and in the early days there was the fear that the genocide would happen again. For the genocide survivors, there were stories of terror and shame; profoundly painful memories that were difficult to share or relive. But thanks to the actions of the new government and the resiliency of the people, children developed a better understanding of the history and their role in ensuring that the genocide never happens again. Another Health Builders staff member, Denyse Bucyedusenge, says, “(My parents) told us what exactly happened in order for it to not happen again. Preserving our history so that we can also pass it to the next generation for continuing to keep peace.”
“When we see 27 years which have passed in peace and reconstruction, it gives us (young people) confidence that we are in a safe country. Through many dialogues and testimony our generation was able to get information about the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi including its preparation, execution, and the outcome, giving us resolution to overcome the past and construct a better Rwanda.”
Rwanda is focused on ensuring that all people have access to mental and physical health care. Concerns about young people’s mental health has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations like Health Builders are taking a meaningful role in ensuring that there is access to care and removing the stigma of mental health problems.
The young staff at Health Builders realize that there are generational impacts from the trauma their parents and grandparents suffered and are keen to help their peers maneuver these treacherous waters. Having the support of family, they have made career choices that will have a direct impact on their communities. “I grew up admiring people who are sacrificing themselves to help others. I realized that there is nothing more rewarding. Therefore, I wanted to be a part of something significant too,” says Denyse.
Our conversation with the younger staff ended with asking about their dreams for the future. Their answers were powerful, not just because they expressed awareness of an incredibly difficult collective history, but also for the pride they have in what the country has overcome, and the hope they have for their future.
“Rwanda is a blessed country in all ways. We admit that we went through a lot through the years, but we have love and hope for our country. Our country is getting better and better regardless of different obstacles the country faced. We decided to choose peace and love so that we can build our country. Now, our country is developing speedily in all aspects. Welcome to Rwanda and please do visit to see the hope, love, peace and development.”
We hope you will take up that offer and visit Rwanda when it is safe to do so! For more information about a potential visit to see Health Builders work first-hand, please contact us at email@example.com