Visting the TIG Camp was something that I will never forget.
Suspected criminals in Rwanda who confess their involvements in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, are given chance to serve half of their sentences outside prison doing community work. The community work is popularly known as TIG (travel d’interest generale).
TIG reinforces unity and national reconciliation process and contributes to the economic development of the country. It also enables the convicts, acquire new professional skills that will help them facilitate their reintegration into society and at the same time give them training in human rights and other related fields.
The works they get involved in, include; construction of houses for Genocide survivors and other people without shelter, constructing roads, farming and other developmental activities. They have been given special camps close to the people. They also have 20 days throughout the year to visit home.
This is something we will never see in the United States of America. Our country is not about forgiveness. Truly makes me sad.
We had the honor to ask them questions and they were able to ask us questions as well.
"What made you kill the tutsis?", was a question asked. The responses was, they were brainwashed. They trusted the educated people who were telling them the Tutsi's are horrible people and are ruining Rwanda, so they must be killed. It was burned into their brains. They thought they were doing the right thing.
It kept going through my mind, these people helped killed almost a million of people, I should be angry at that them. Then I realized, hate is a horrible thing. I cleared my mind and started to listen to their stories. They know what they did was wrong, they know that they will forever have guilt. I then told myself, these people deserve forgiveness because no one will ever forget.
At the end of the our Q & A at the camp, they sang and dance for us. There I was pulled in to dance along the perpetrators of the genocide, but all I felt was joy.
All you need is love....
Sorry for the lack of updates!
We went on a monkey trek and it was the first time that I ever went hiking in a rain forest. It was a surreal moment to just listen to the nature, it was actually very calming. I was scared of the bugs but to my surprise, I didn’t see many. The monkeys that we were looking for were the Collobus Monkey. They look like a judge. It was incredible to see monkeys in their natural habitat and not in a cage at a zoo.
We had the wonderful pleasure to immerse ourselves into a rural village in Buffalo's sister city, Muhanga. We went to the village for a morning of family chores, a simple, home-cooked lunch, and an afternoon of learning how to craft. We carried water jugs to the spring and back up to the hill, helped out in the garden, peeled sweet potatoes for our lunch and pictured to the left, we cut grass and carried it to the cows. This experience made me open my eyes to appreciate the things I have at home. These Rwandans are incredible human beings.
Liz and I had the distinct pleasure of educating these wonderful teachers. For two days we taught these educators drama based education. We taught them games they can play with their students to get them moving and engergized. The subject assigned to Liz and I was Math. One of the educators taught the whole group a math lesson on the order of operations. Let me tell you, these folks are super smart, he had me engaged more than any of the teachers I had growing up. From there helped them create a story using their body and vocals about the math lesson. Liz and I also got to go to one of the teachers classroom they day after training finished. I felt so proud to see all of our hard work put into action. I have learned so much from this portion of our trip. I will definitely be stealing some things I saw into my classroom.
This is the classroom we got to visit after our teacher training days.
Yesterday we practiced our play that we will be performing at a few locations, especially for the educators. It combines the story of Anne Frank with the story of Ayana(story from the genocide). This shows how drama based education can be added into the classroom. It’s all about story telling.
From there we had lunch at Afrika Bites. It was traditional African food. But I couldn’t tell you what it was, all that it was good.
We visited another genocide memorial, this time one at a church that used to murder the Tutsis. During the genocide, over the radio they would say that the tutsi’s can go to the be safe, but it was actually used against them. It was to get them all together so it was easier for the Hutu’s to kill them. The church is left intact, the clothes of the ones murdered, blood stains. They have the bones and skulls laid out for rest. This memorial was tough to walk through. I just had knots in my stomach the whole time. All I kept on saying in my head was “I’m so sorry”
I had an amazing dinner, it was blue cheese crusted filet minion. YUM!!!! Best meal I’ve had in awhile.
Today, we visited another memorial. This was for the 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers were murdered by the Hutu extremist if order to provoke a withdrawal of the UN forces. It was very sad and hard to see, because the building was just full of bullet holes.
Later today we traveled to the Urukundo Village, which began in May 2006 with a single house in which one woman, Mama Arlene, began to take children in to house, feed, and educate.
41 children are fully housed, cared for and given an education.
329 children are going to school with educational sponsorships from the Urukundo Education Sponsor Program.
This beautiful place was started by the incredible, Mama Arlene. She was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She has a beautiful soul and I am truly inspired by her.
Someone asked her if this was a dream of hers, she replied with, “I don’t have dreams, they aren’t real, I have visions.” Th
We had dinner with the the children that are housed there. We stood in a circle and all held hands, they sang their songs and said a prayer before we ate. I was so moved by this, I couldn’t hold back the tears. These children have no home or relatives, but the joy and kind spirits they have is truly special. Mama Arlene gave these kids a home and family. After dinner, the kids sang and danced for us. This was the moment where I realized why I needed to go on this trip. These beautiful children had so much joy and love that I have never seen in anybody. My heart is so full right now.
Remember. Unite. Renew.
Yesterday was a rollercoaster of emotions. From the walking tour of Kigali to the genocide memorial.
My sleep was way off, I went to bed at 9:45pm and was up and ready to go at 3am. But I haven’t felt any jet lag, so that’s a good thing. Most of our village was awake at around 3:30am & 4:00am
We had our first breakfast at the hostel, it was huge toast, with eggs, fruit salad, & scrambled eggs. I also had my first Rwandan Coffee....SO STRONG!
We went to go exchange our money. $100 usd = 87,000 rwf (Rwandan Franc)
Our first part of the day was a walking tour of the oldest part of Kigali. It is run by the women’s center.
Here is some info about the center: “Nyamirambo Women’s Center (NWC), a Rwandan NGO, was launched at the end of 2007 by 18 Rwandese women living in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Together they created a project which aimed to address gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination. Today, NWC’s mission is to provide education and vocational training to women who do not have the means to pay for such training on their own, so that they can gain better opportunities for employment.”
The walking tour begins at the Women’s Center with a traditional snack, a quick Kinyarwanda language lesson, and an introduction to the Center and its activities. It then weaves through Nyamirambo, one of Kigali’s oldest neighborhoods. Along the way guides lead participants into a women's hairdressing salon where the adventurous type can get a free braid; into a family compound to pound cassava leaves; by two mosques and a lookout view over Kigali; and into a tailor shop to feel the fabrics you'll otherwise see styled on the streets. The tour concludes with a traditional lunch made and served in the home of Aminatha, NWC's best cook.
This was a kind of a culture shock for me. Just seeing everyone walk around, carrying their food around or sitting in front of their homes preparing meals. We walked into their market, it reminded me of a huge block sale. We witnessed them bartering for clothes so they can sell them on their own.
The second part of the trip was attending the main genocide memorial. I really have no words for that. It was very emotional and I learned what actually happened. It’s just so very sad. Right now in Rwanda it’s Kwibuka 24. The next section is Stolen from the website.
Kwibuka means ‘remember’ in Kinyarwanda, Rwanda’s language. It describes the annual commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
More than one million Rwandans died in the hundred days of the genocide. It was one of human history’s darkest times.
Kwibuka is a series of events taking place in Rwanda and around the world. These events lead up to the national commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda, which begins on 7 April every year. The genocide began on 7 April 1994.
Kwibuka calls on the world to stand against genocide in three key ways:
– To remember: Honouring the memory of those who died. Offering support to those who survived.
– To unite: Rwanda shows that reconciliation through shared human values is possible. We ask the world to do the same.
– To renew: As we build Rwanda anew, we are humbled to share our experiences and learn from others. Let’s create a better world together.
We had the honor to put flowers on one of the mass graves. That’s when it hit me, I just couldn’t understand how the world let this happen. As I put my rose on the grave, all I could say was “I’m sorry.” And that’s when the tears started flowing.
We as humans need to spread love around to everyone. Stop with all of this hate, we are better than that. ❤️🧡💛💜💙💚🖤🇷🇼
We are here........
I am finally here in Kigali, Rwanda, the capital. On the bus ride to our beautiful hostel, we saw parts of the city and it was absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to explore tomorrow.
So, the flight was something, The longest flight I’ve ever been on. We flew out of Buffalo to JFK then JFK to Qatar(which was about 13 hours) then Qatar to Uganda(5 hours) then Uganda to Rwanda( an hour ). I did pretty well, it was towards the end of the 13 hour flight where I was getting anxious to get off the plane. My ankles were swollen a little bit, still are.
We are staying at the Discover Youth Hostel, it’s very nice! Great outdoor area to hangout and relax. Our room is dorm style, 4 of us to one room with bunk beds. There is no AC, so I am thankful I brought a portable fan.
We also just had our first village meal together at the hostel, it was very good. They have tiny baby bananas that are so delicious!
Ok time to disconnect from the the social media world and and actually talk to people.
We are three weeks away before we head to Rwanda, I am getting anxious and excited. I have all my shots done and my malaria pills are packed and ready to go.
Over the past 4 months we have been preparing ourselves for this trip during our village meetings. We have been learning many different exercise to help clear and open your mind. It's all about being present. These games/exercises are what we will be teaching to the Rwandan educators. Another thing we have been working on is a Play that was written by two of our village members. We will perform this play as a gift to the many different locations we will be visiting.
That is it for now. I'll update more as the time gets closer.
Sean Murphy is a Childhood Education Major with a concentration in Social Studies at Buffalo State College. He is very active in the Buffalo theatre community and has performed with many local theatre companies. Sean studied musical theatre in NYC and has worked at Walt Disney World as a Character/Parade performer. He is beyond excited for this extraordinary trip to Rwanda.