Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Isaac Mugabe


An orphan’s story of survival and hope for the future.


Before the genocide, I lived a happy life with my parents. My father was a contractor in the construction business. Mum was a housewife although she was educated and qualified as a nurse. Problems started in school after 1990 when people’s race had to be entered in their student files. If you were a Tutsi student, you’d have no peace; there was always someone bullying you. My father worked with men who helped young people to get to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). I remember when the RPF troops came as part of the Arusha agreement, my father was very excited and took me to see them.

When the genocide began on 6 April 1994, some of us ran to St Charles' church in Nyamirambo. There were bodies in the church. Next day the soldiers and Interahamwe came to remove them. I heard them saying that they didn't want the bodies to be seen or found. We realised we would be caught, so we went to the school just behind. Soon the school was surrounded by the Interahamwe, who climbed the walls and came in, slaughtering people. I jumped over a wall and ran home. By luck, I found everybody alive at home. When our neighbours were killed, however, we knew we would be next. Father sent me to a family friend named Ally Kamegeri. He hid me, along with the younger children, even though our parents couldn’t come. He hid about 20 kids in total. That’s how we lived until the end of genocide.

Father was killed. An attack group made him walk all around the neighbourhood naked. That was because before the genocide, he wouldn't take their nonsense. I heard that he was beaten badly and never made it alive to the hole in Gatare which they intended to throw him into. They dragged his body there. His remains are still in that hole. I haven’t yet been able to exhume him and give him a proper burial. Three days later, my mother was rescued by the RPF. In our hiding place, we had no news of Mum, but we knew that Dad had been killed. We just thought they had both been wiped out. After the genocide, we ran into Mum by sheer luck.

Mum was never the same after the genocide. She seemed depressed and discouraged, unhappy with life, and as time passed she developed ulcers and had stomach problems. My older brother developed mental health problems after the genocide as well, which destabilised her even more. Her stomach problems got so bad that if she tried to eat, she would vomit. I thought Mum was only sick, but she died. At first my brothers and sisters lost all hope. I lost hope as well, but as the oldest, I had to calm them down and I showed them examples of other people orphaned before us. It made them see that they weren’t the only orphans. And they're not completely orphans because we are still together. At the moment I’m studying in the Université Libre in Kigali. In my daily life, I do my best to ensure a good life for my brother and sisters. I can't take the place of our parents, but I try to do most things that parents would do. I am like their parent.

-Isaac Mugabe

22 Comments:

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Maya said...

Isaac, thank you for telling us your story. You should be very proud of yourself for taking care of your siblings. I hope that your studies at the university will lead you into a good future and that your existing family can heal from these horrific events.

 
At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog I hope is going to me translated to enable true engagement of Survivors. Or is this really just about publicity for the film. Survivors of the horrific events of the Rwandan Genocide deserve to be treated with respect and real engagement.

 
At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I an from France and I think this is a wonderful blog. It is made with the new film in mind but surely that can be only a good thing as it is teaching people about what happened. I did not know much about the subject and I think those brave persons who write in here are doing the right thing. Their voices can now be heard across the world and poeple will listen because films are made.
Sometimes a film is not exactly like the story, but i think that is beacause films have to tell stories in another way. A film has to be truthful yes, but it also has to sink home with the people. Thats why new characters are invented to 'narate' or the story be seen through 'their' eyes.
These are my views.

 
At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless you!

 
At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Emily said...

Isaac, I also have a son named Isaac. I pray that he can be the kind of man that you are. You inspire me!

 
At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isaacs story is one of courage in the face of very trying circumstances i cannot imagine what he must have gone through,but i hope that you continue to pusue your studies,and i wish you all the best our prayers are with you.

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger Nike said...

Personally, if it wasn't for the film, I wouldn't have known about the autrocities that took place in Rwanda in 1994. At the time, I don't recall what I was doing, but all I heard was brief headlines about Rwanda. The movie was wonderful, real and REALLY opened my eyes to what is really going on in the world. My thoughts and prayers are constantly with Rwanda and the Genocide survivors.

 
At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isaac, thanks for telling your story. It is really moving and I pray that God will richly bless you and your brothers and sisters. Keep looking to God for He will always be there for you. He loves you more than anyone else ever can.

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger hope said...

Your story was very moving. Isaac you are a srong individual and I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Aloha, from Hawaii

 
At 4:17 AM, Blogger YasMira said...

Isaac, your story really touched my heart. I've just made an essay in school where I wrote about Rwandan genocide, you and many other survivors have made me understand everything I was wondering, thank you for sharing your story and feelings to us. I wish you all the luck in the future, God bless you:)

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger AVerma said...

Isaac, thank you for your story. I remember vaguely seeing the news in 1994 about the Rwandan genocide, but never understood the real story or the magnitude until now. I remember I was 15 in 1994 and growing up in a small midwest town in the United States. Since then, I have seen Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April, and I am througly shocked and ashamed that although everyone genocide was being openly done, nobody did anything about it. I love my country, but am very ashamed of our ineptitude when it comes to helping our brethren around the world.
I sincerely wish you best of luck in your studies and hope with all my heart you find yourself with an excellent education and a bright future for you and your siblings.

 
At 11:57 PM, Blogger Charli McLain said...

Thank you Issac for telling us of the horrific events in your life and what your family suffered. I am grateful that there exist even in the hell that was Rwanda during that time, someone who was willing to take in 20 children and save their lives. I wish you well in your future, and pray that your siblings and you will be able to have some days when you don't think about what happened. i can't begin to imagine the weight of such experience. You are very brave.

 
At 8:13 PM, Blogger History Day Workers said...

Hello, my partner and I are doing the National History Day Project on the genocide in Rwanda. We realize that not many people recognize what happened as a significant, traumatizing event. We would very much like it if you could tell us more, if you want to that is, and it would be very helpful for our research. Your story was very heartfelt and compelling. We would appreciate using your information to educate other people. Thank You.
teolani_rose@hotmail.com or swoosh_adidas32@hotmail.com

 
At 11:12 AM, Blogger Team Rwanda said...

How can I connect with your bolg to bring your information to Southern California? I am leading a Christian team to Rwanda in March for 2 1/2 weeks to sever the Rwandan people, but want my supports to be able to see and read real stories from Rwandan's themselves, Please see the blog i have just created at http://team1rwanda.blogspot.com/ and any information you wish. Please pass this blog along to whomever you feel might want to share their story and help our team and supports understand how and what really has happened past and present in Rwanda.

God Bless

Scott Newman
scottnewman@cox.net

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Sabina said...

Dear all,
after reading this story I realized what was going on there and how serious the problems were. I too experienced a war, but was very young, so most of it is all in the back of the mind and forgotten. I have a serious question, one of my friends is from Rwanda and she's living on her own in the Netherlands not even knowing if her parents or sister are alive. Is there any site where you can post your name or anything just to get closer to the truth of founding out if your family is alive?!

I really hope some of you can help me, because I intend to give my friend a better outlook for the future and I can't see her living like this, all alone.

Thanks in advance!

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Isaac said...

I'm Isaac thank u for reading my blog and personally i want give my mail for helping everybody who will want to know more.Especially i adress myself to SABINA.
my mail's misaac94@yahoo.co.uk

Thank u

 
At 2:27 PM, Blogger loezgirl said...

this story is a really sad story and i dont even know how to share my feelings about it i am really sober buh thank GOD u r still alive today it is a miracle

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Gloria said...

Isaac just read this. I can't describe my feelings. Yeah I'm Rwandese, around sixteen. Genocide happened when I was young. I was born and grew up in Uganda but I have Rwanda at heart. Since childhoood I've heard thousands of stories and how rivers ran with blood. I was scared of being called rwandese but everywhere up to now peole ask and last year I visited for the first time. I 'm so greatful of people of rwanda. Trying to rebuild what was lost is now my pride in returning to Rwanda one day! Thanks for the bravery in oyur testimonial.

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger Trompies said...

Having been born and raised in Africa and now living in Europe, I can only conclude that the UN exists to safeguard the interests of the Rich and developed countries. Imagine the UN turning a blind eye on genocide in the West! Unimaginable, otherwise it would go the same way as the League of Nations. However it seems acceptable for Africans to kill each other. Isaac my brother, may God bless and keep you safe for your destiny must be great for you to survive that genocide.

 
At 12:44 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

We as a whole, as a owrld, ashumans have failed so many times to our brothers and sisters. I am so embarrassed that nothing was done. How didn't anyone do anything to protect this genocide occuring? How could people leave knowing what was waiting outside of the gates. Where were the UNITED NATIONS? If this is how we unite then what hope is there for anyone that is not rich and important to the eyes of this cold world? I can't believe we didn't do anything. Everyone well knows if this had happened in a country of "value" to the governments this never would have happened. We are horrible. Why was this lesson not learned after Hitler? Are we so stupid as humans that we do not see and do not feel enough to actually stop horrendous murders like this to happen? I am so embarrassed to be a human. I feel helpless and ashamed of my race and what we can come to. To not do anything we are just as bad as those that did the killings. I am so sorry for everyone that had to suffer for something that was so preventable. The wrong people have the power in this world and that is depressing.

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger avi said...

Issac
I thank you for sharing your story with us. It is hrible how this events can happen.i think you are a wonderful man and i hope you would have all the best.
i had a paper to do and your story realy inspired me a lot.
again, Thank You for sharing it.

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger lysha said...

Hi there,
I am very touched by your story and it saddens me to even think about what you and your family have gone through. I have been trying to educate myself as much as possible about the horrible events that took place in 1994 and I was hoping that maybe you and I could write to each other? I would love to learn about how you have overcome the adversities that you have faced during and after the genocide as well.

I hope to hear from you.

 

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