20 Years in the Shadow: The Role and Possibilities of the Youth in Rwanda after the Genocide

February 25, 2014 | rwanda, genocide, remembrance, denmark, copenhagen

20 Years in the Shadow - Rwanda 2014 from Humanity in Action Denmark.

Humanity in Action Denmark commemorated the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda during the first week of March. The project brought two genocide survivors, Patrick Iregura and Serge Rwigamba, to Copenhagen to meet with Danish youth. Patrick and Serge gave lectures on their experiences during the genocide, what it is like to be a survivor, and what human rights issues Rwanda faces today. Together with Danish students, they lead workshops on the need for active citizenship and civil courage. During their one week visit, they gave talks at five schools, took part in a half day seminar in collaboration with the Danish Institute for International Studies, served as panelists at an event at the Danish daily newspaper Politiken and met with Humanity in Action Senior Fellows. 

Patrick Iregura was born in Rwanda, yet raised in Congo. Being of a minority background, of Tutsi ancestry, his family sought refuge in the 1980s in Congo due to violent discrimination by the Hutu majority. His family returned to Rwanda in 1990, only to be trapped between a liberation campaign on one the hand and a genocide in the making on the other. During this period, Patrick witnessed the slaughter of both his grandparents and his younger brother, Eric. Patrick survived the genocide and was determined to make something of himself. He graduated from high school in 1997, only narrowly escaping death once more, as a grenade attack was launched on his school. Patrick has just finished his first book, his memoir called I Dream for a Living and is currently working on not only his second book, but also a novel and a book of poetry.

Serge Rwigamba was born and raised in Kigali, Rwanda and is of Tutsi origin. During the genocide his family was “butchered." Today, Serge is a passionate advocate for human rights and politics in general. He has almost completed his degree in International Relations and plans to work on how the youth has impacted and can impact the Great Lakes Region of Rwanda in terms of peace and stability.  At the moment, he works at Kigali Memorial Genocide Center giving tours, including one to a mass grave where 250,000 genocide victims were buried. Serge explains to the visitors what the roots of the genocide against the Tutsis were, how it was executed and which consequences it bears on modern day Rwanda.

In the last two years, Serge hosted a group of students from American University, who took part in a program called "Outbreak" that aims at helping people in destitute areas. He also volunteers at Never Again, where he interacts with local students on issues of human rights and on how to think about themselves and their future identity as a country.

The project is supported by the Danish Foreign Ministry - Danida.

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