She was eight years old and she loved chocolate

Someone who was murdered in the Rwandan genocide was wearing a t-shirt that reads, “I love Ottawa”.  The t-shirt is blue and the script is yellow.  Size small.  I saw it yesterday at the Kigali Memorial Centre.  Hanging in a room along with clothing worn by other victims.  A white scarf with blue birds. Superman sheets.  A string of pearls.

Someone who was murdered in the Rwandan genocide loved chocolate. Her name was Chanelle.  Her favourite sport was jogging with her father and her favourite thing to drink was milk.  She liked to watch TV and listen to music. Chanelle was eight years old when she died.  She was hacked to death by a machete.  I saw her picture yesterday.

Someone who was murdered in the Rwandan genocide had only ever had one picture taken of himself. The one on his driver’s licence. There is nothing else left.  He wore glasses.  His driver’s licence hangs in a room along with photographs of hundreds of other victims.  Most are smiling and laughing.   Some are serious.

It is estimated that nearly a million someones were murdered over a 100-day period in 1994.  The Memorial Centre tries to provide victims with a voice, by displaying clothing, pictures, and anecdotes.  One room is filled with skulls and bones, another with pictures of children who were killed, a third with personal effects.  There are video interviews with survivors and newspaper articles.

250,000 victims are buried in the grounds adjacent to the Centre, their names listed in small white letters on a concrete wall.  Their graves are surrounded by bright red, purple, and yellow flowers.

A t-shirt, chocolate, and a driver’s licence.  Bones and clothing.  The things we do to each other.

This is the saddest place I’ve ever been.

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4 responses to “She was eight years old and she loved chocolate”

  1. Sara says :

    This is a really beautiful post. Thanks for sharing

  2. Dienna says :

    This is a moving piece. It is giving these victims back their humanity.

  3. barefoot_med_student says :

    I didn’t even know that such a memorial centre existed. I will visit it when I am in the country one day. Thanks for a touching post.

  4. poetgranny says :

    Sadly, we must all face that evil exists. It is the first step in fighting it. Thank you for this sweet memorial to victims of horrific criminals.

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