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Rwanda: 'Never again'

SOS mother Marie with her family
SOS mother Marie with her family

Peter Law looks back on the time he spent in Rwanda for ‘Our Africa’. He tells the story of two extraordinary women, Marie and Rosette.

You know what it’s like – you read a book, or you see a film, based on a true story, yet it doesn’t seem quite real. It can’t be – the events are sometimes just too horrific; the people are just too extraordinary to be believed. You imagine the author or film-maker must have used journalistic licence to embellish their creations. Real life just can’t be like that. Can it?

So it was that we met some extraordinary women in Rwanda whose relatives were killed in the 1994 genocide. 

Rwanda Our Africa family imageOne such woman is Marie. We had read about SOS mother Marie in a book Women’s Lives published by SOS Hermann Gmeiner Academy in 2003. Marie’s husband was slaughtered. He’d worked with SOS Children before the genocide erupted. He and Marie hadn’t had children. Becoming an SOS mother was the way Marie rebuilt her life. 

We met Marie at the SOS Children village in Kigali. On video, she painfully recalls events that she witnessed at first hand, and describes what caring for her family of 10 orphans now means to her.

Another such woman is Rosette, who was 14 when her parents, and so many of her extended family, were killed in the genocide. Since then, Rosette has dedicated her life to reconciling Rwandans, and helping to take the country forward into what is fast becoming one of Africa’s more stable and economically developed nations. 

We filmed in a Kigali memorial museum which Rosette helped to establish. It has the motto: ‘Never again’.

During our visit to Rwanda we came to realise that, back in our western world, we ignorantly associate Rwanda only with genocide. Thanks to people like Marie and Rosette, Rwandans are gradually, and determinedly, moving on. 

Marie, Rosette… they are extraordinary yet real people, with extraordinary yet real lives – books and films could not do them justice.

What is Our Africa?

Our Africa shows what it is really like to grow up in Africa. This complex continent may harbour a dark side, but too often is the richness and beauty of the everyday forgotten. By sending children out into their communities, equipped with “flip-cams”, we were able to capture the vibrancy of day-to-day life. The Our Africa website is a melting pot of cultures, bringing together a myriad of stories into one place. Find out more.