Saturday, May 28, 2011

{Rwandan Celebration}

I was honored to be able to photograph this event that celebrated the lives of those lost in the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. I found myself crying multiple times through the event... and though the coverage of such an event is sad, the event was a celebration of life. The lives of those who were lost. 

Immaculee and I worked together at Saint Mary's. I remember the first time she told me her story. The two children shown in the photo frame below were hers... They were killed in the genocide along with her husband and best friend... and so many other friends and people that she knew personally. I sat there and just cried as I listened to her story. War forces many families to split up in order to try to protect the family. Hearing the stories of survival are incredible yet so horrific. Hearing about the deaths of the victims ... despairingly tragic. Most impacting through all of this was hearing Immaculee express what sustains her: her faith in God. Just incredible her testimony and the testimony of others who managed to survive this nightmare.

This ceremony was held to celebrate the lives of those who were lost 17 years ago. A mass of Thanksgiving was held and then a documentary which brought to life the stories of the remarkable people who were lost, followed then by a reception and dinner.

For those who do not know here are the details recorded about the genocide. You may read more if you wish with the link below that I've provided. If you have not watched Hotel Rwanda, it is a very powerful movie about the genocide.

"Over the course of approximately 100 days from the assassination of JuvĂ©nal Habyarimana on April 6 through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate. Estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000, or as much as 20% of the country's total population. It was the culmination of longstanding ethnic competition and tensions between the minority Tutsi, who had controlled power for centuries, and the majority Hutu peoples, who had come to power in the rebellion of 1959–1962 and overthrown the Tutsi monarchy."
{Taken from Wikipedia}

God bless the men, women and children who were left with such sorrowful loss. And may the lives of those who were lost always be remembered. 
{Immaculee is in the second photo, singing with her eyes closed.}

More photos can be found on my Facebook business page: