A few year’s ago I read the book Left To Tell, Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immacule’e Ilibagize. It was the first time I’d ever heard of the 1994 Rwandan genocide where more than one million people were killed in a hundred-day seige. Tutsi men, woman, and children were viciously slaughtered by machetes, machine-guns, and by being burned to death in their own homes by their Hutu neighbors. These two groups of people had lived beside one another for years as friends and neighbors until April 7, 1994 when Hutu began massacring Tutsi.
The Hutus referred to the Tutsis as cockroaches and snakes who needed to be exterminated. They attacked villages throwing grenades into homes, murdering, raping, and burning homes and churches to the ground. The Tutsis in terror tried to flee to mountains, forests, swamps–wherever they could find a place to hide.
Immacule’e shares her story of how she survived this horrific event in her book Left To Tell.
Immacule’e describes her home country of Rwanda as a paradise.
Rwanda is a tiny country set like a jewel in central Africa. She is so breathtakingly beautiful that it’s impossible not to see the hand of God in her lush, rolling hills; mist-shrouded mountains; green valleys; and sparkling lakes. The gentle breezes drifting down from the hills and through the pine and cedar forests and scented with the sweet aroma of lilies and chrysanthemums. And the weather is so pleasant year-round that the German settlers who arrived in the late 1800s christened her “the land of eternal spring.” –taken from Left To Tell, Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Emmacule’e Ilibagiza page 3.
Emmacule’e was able to survive this gruesome experience by hiding in a four feet long by three feet wide bathroom with seven other women for ninety-one days. These eight women had to remain completely quiet, unable to speak to one another–they made up a form of sign language in order to communicate with each other. Cramped and unable to stand up for more than three or four minutes at a time they suffered stiff and sore muscles. They were unable to flush the toilet unless they flushed it at exactly the same time as someone flushed the other toilet in the house. The pastor who hide them was fearful to cook any extra food, therefore, they sometimes went days without food and when they did receive food it was scraps that were left over or something the cook had thrown in the garbage. The eight women were unable to take a bath for the entire ninety-one days and suffered lice and sometimes fevers.
By the time these women left their small prison cell they were all in poor physical condition. –we looked at ourselves in his bedroom mirror. It was the first time we’d seen our reflection since we arrived, and the shock almost killed us–we looked like the living dead. Our cheeks had collapsed, and our eyes were set so far back in their sockets that our heads looked empty skulls. Our rib cages jutted out, and our clothes hung from us as though they’d been draped over a broom handle. I’d weighed 115 pounds when I went into the bathroom; I was 65 pounds when I came out. We all wanted to cry. –taken from Left To Tell, Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Emmacule’e Ilibagiza pages 133-134.
Emmacule’e lost her parents and two brothers to the Rwanda genocide. Emmacule’e shares how she found her salvation in that little bathroom and how she prayed and meditated on God to survive her grisly ordeal.
World help has been working over the last decade to bring healing to Rwanda through trauma counseling, clean-wells, children’s homes, child sponsorships, and a great many other ways. In memory of this horrific event, world help would like to invite you to participate in a hundred days of “Rebuilding Rwanda.” You can participate in one of three ways: pray (for healing and uniting of Rwanda’s people), share (“Rebuilding Rwanda through your online networks–facebook, twitter, etc.), or giving (to support communities still recovering from genocide–http://worldhelp.net/).
Thanks for stopping by. Have a blessed day, Kasey