Friday, January 27, 2006

Rwanda NOW

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day and it is a time to look to the future. We should not forget the atrocities that have occurred in the past but we should look at where we are now and realise that in many countries these horrors still occur. We only need to look to Darfur to realise that people soon forget.

Days like today are to help us remember but also to educate us, to make sure that this does not happen again.

Today's post was contributed by Ken Barham, Trustee of Rwanda Aid and Former Anglican Bishop of Cyangugu, Rwanda (1993 to 2001).

"It is important that people are made aware of the horrors of the genocide, but it is also important to bring to the forefront, the situation in Rwanda NOW. Rwanda is no longer a dangerous place with gangs like the Interahamwe roaming about the country. I feel strongly about this because I have worked in one of the most vulnerable parts of Rwanda from September 1994 until 2001 and then visited once or twice a year since then. I have watched the country move from total chaos in 1994, when all the banks were cleaned out and all government and other property taken, including my roof, doors, windows, cupboards etc; through sorting out administration, setting up commissions for Unity and Reconciliation and a Constitution, to elections at a lower level and then for Parliament and President. I was there last year in October and again in November and will be there again in May this year. Rwanda is incredible! The city of Kigali is being cleaned up remarkably. I have just come back from Honduras and seen rubbish thrown out all along the streets. President Kagame led his Ministers through Kigali picking up all the plastic bags and banning their future use. Trees and flowers are being planted everywhere and new buildings going up like mushrooms. In addition, Tutsi and Hutu are living and working side by side everywhere and nobody is going out to kill anyone (even if that feeling is still there for genocide survivors).

That horrific massacre happened in 1994. Those who have visited Rwanda recently will know the enormous effort that has been made, not only to restore the devastated country, but to move steadily from chaos to creative development, from devastation to democracy. Such strides have been made that inward investment has brought a brand new Five star Intercontinental Hotel to Kigali to match the Hotel Mille Collines and the Umubano Hotel, all of which are hosting international conferences. Rwanda NOW is a very safe and beautiful country. Scores of visitors go to see the gorillas in the mists of the mountains. Some of them travel to the National Park in the east to see a huge range of African animals. Some travel south to the university town of Butare and visit the National Museum. Wise people also continue on the tarmac road through the Natural Forest of Nyungwe with its thirteen types of primate, its rare birds and orchids. After the forest the country opens out to miles of beautiful green tea plantations before arriving at the small town of Kamembe in Cyangugu. Very wise people stay at the Peace Guest House on the lakeside of the beautiful Lake Kivu! Here they can get a Rondavel with two bedrooms, sitting room looking at the lake, and bathroom with flush loo and hot shower. It is safe to travel anywhere in Rwanda today and it is a beautiful country, the Land of a Thousand Hills. Every visitor will get a very warm welcome. The genocide certainly happened and, of course, there are still deep scars, but the courts are dealing with justice. The three ethnic groups, the Hutu, the Tutsi and the Twa, live side by side in every village and town and work together in every business, and study together in every school and college. If ever there was a perfect example of Reconciliation, Rwanda is it! The people, the government Commission for Reconciliation and Unity, and the Churches, are all working at it.

If you want to prove it, go and see!"

-Ken Barham
For more information about visiting Rwanda, click on the Rwandan Tourist Board website.
Please keep sending in your thoughts and views.


At 2:12 PM, Blogger Alex Lopez said...

this was amazing.(:

At 12:32 PM, Blogger A.B. said...

Thank you for this post.
I leave the day after tomorrow for Kibuye.
I am told that the love and peace and forgiveness are infectious.
My mission is on behalf of and we ask your good thoughts.
We will arrive in Kigali Saturday and drive to Kibuye with no translator.The goal is to assist with clean water initiatives.

Soon I will say Muraho!


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