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Surviving Genocide to Support Other Survivors

by Lillian Gahima
9:53 am

Ignace Munyaneza was seven during the 1994 genocide against ethnic Tutsi that claimed a million lives.

At such a tender age, Munyaneza witnessed interahamwe brutally murdering his parents and four siblings, two other sisters also survived.

“It was too much to take in, my internal wounds far surpassed the physical wounds that hurt so much as well,” says Munyaneza.

After the genocide, Munyaneza and two sisters struggled to survive.

Amidst this struggle, Barakabaho ‘Let them Live’, a local Foundation came in just in time, to save the motion, early 1995.

“First they brought us a sack of rice, a few cloths and cooking oil,” recounts Munyaneza adding they used to forego meals.

The same year, they enrolled him at primary school with all the due scholastic materials and school fees.

Thanks to the mentorship and counseling, Munyaneza is a proud civil engineer at only 26. He invented Talent Real Estates, a construction company, hoping to employ many in future. He currently earns Rwf 500,000 monthly.

On Friday, Barakabaho Foundation celebrated 20 years supporting over 8,000 Genocide orphans and 5000 widows.

Support ranges from education, food and economic activities.

“I listened to my heart and told fellow Tutsi that though we were being hunted, we needed to choose life, a decent life, “said Founder, the Anglican bishop Alex Birindabagabo and a survivor himself.

By July 4, 1994, when The Genocide against Tutsi was stopped, he had already started getting some money from friends who knew he was still alive. He then founded Barakabaho.

He started with buying food for Genocide survivors across Kigali. He then committed his wife, a doctor to treat physical wounds of survivors, and provide counseling.

Global Fund, Universal Anglican Church, Unicef among others support
Barakabaho’s budget estimated to Rwf 800M annually.

The Foundation is doing a study on farming project to exploit vacant land that belongs to the orphans.

Anastase Shyaka, Chief Executive officer of Rwanda Governance Board says if it wasn’t for such associations, government would not handle numerous challenges facing Genocide survivors.

As for Munyaneza, he hopes to give back to the community by helping vulnerable orphans.

By Lillian Gahima & Jean de la Croix Tabaro

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