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.
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.