This April marks the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda where one million people were murdered in a matter of 100 days. For many ASYV students, it is a traumatic part of their past and they are still healing from the terror that struck their nation, and the world. Even for the students who were born after 1994, the genocide had deep residual effects that touched the lives of all Rwandans. To remember this atrocious offense to humanity, Rwanda has held a series of events called, Kwibuka 20. In Kinyarwanda, kwibuka means “to remember.” But Kwibuka is not solely meant to focus on the horror and despair of the genocide; it is meant to unite and bring hope to this small landlocked nation. According to the Kwibuka website, Kwibuka20 calls on the world to stand against genocide in three key ways: to remember, to unite, and to renew.
I have lived in Rwanda for only four months now, but I have met some of the most inspiring and wonderful people at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. If you ever lose faith in humanity, all you need to do is spend a few minutes at ASYV. The youth that I know and spend everyday with renewed my sense of hope for the world. The genocide in Rwanda was a horrible event in world history and it should not be forgotten, but I want to focus on the future of Rwanda. The future of Rwanda will be determined by its youth. ASYV students range from mid-teens to early twenties and they are leaders, poets, innovators, and possess a keen desire to learn. The photos below depict ASYV students, particularly from the family that I mentor. These are new students at ASYV, but their faces and smiles show hope and strength. Kwibuka may be a time to remember the past, but these are the faces of the future.