Day 2 con't - Ntarama and Nyamata
Kigali Travel Blog› entry 4 of 6 › view all entries
This is where the emotional rollercoaster startsâ€¦ And it will continue over the next week. Tears of joy and tears of despair will flow freely over the next few days. We see genocide sites where thousands perished and we see the projects of hope that inspire and restore belief in humanity.
The first genocide site we entered was Ntarama. Both Ntarama and Nyamata are in the same area. Jean Hatzfeld (sp?) - French journalist wrote three books on the situation in this region (Life Laid Bare, Machete Season, Antelope Strategy).
Ntarama was very familiar to me through those books. I didnâ€™t know what impact it will have on me when I enter the church where several thousand of people lost their lives.
I waited until most of my fellow travelers got in. Many took lots of photos from the moment they crossed the threshold.
I am enclosing some pictures from both Ntarama and Nyamata - courtesy of my fun, crazy, and wonderful friend Genifer.
We left Ntarama and went on to Nyamata. This was yet another church that witnessed a large scale massacre. Local Tutsis hid there thinking that no one would dare to attack them in the church. In fact, in earlier years of Tutsi pogroms, they could always hide in churches and be safe. Not this time. Again, I entered the church only for a few seconds and didnâ€™t take pictures. I felt like it was enough for me for one day. The church was open and coolâ€¦ It mainly displayed the clothing and personal possessions of the victims. All pews were draped with dirty, bloodied clothes. Underneath and behind the church were mass graves. I mostly stayed in front of the church talking with Paul - another guide. He lost most of his family in genocide.
We had four guides and four vehicles. Gradually, we became closer to the guides and started to form a friendship. We really enjoyed and appreciated them and they were happy to show us their country and answer any questions we had. They were simply irreplaceable. All spoke great English, were nice, friendly, patient, helpful and knowledgeable. And one could tell they really enjoyed our group. Rwanda is not a big tourist destination. Most of the places we went - we were the only group there. Tourists come mostly to Rwanda for gorilla trekking in the northern parts. Our guides work for one of the safari companies that take tourists through Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
As we walked out of the grounds of the church, lots of children from the village gathered around our cars. They were off school for a two-week break. Seeing a group of whites sparked their interest. All of the sudden, we were surrounded with beautiful, slightly shy, happy, smiley faces with curious looks and playful eyes. We started talking with them and taking some pictures. Soon, the kids had so much fun - posing for pictures, taking them, talking and joking around. I couldnâ€™t believe the contrast. We are standing in front of a genocide memorial with its horrible pastâ€¦ and here are the kids - the new generation - carefree, uninhibited, friendly - young humans - the future of
We all went back to the hotel full of thought and reflection. It was a tough day for me, but more grim places were to come.