|“Who are the bad guys and who are the good guys?” I responded that life is much more complicated than that.
Do you remember Solange, the thirteen year old Tutsi girl whose parents were killed by the interahamwe who then told her to “Get out”? She is now one of the main HROC facilitators in Rwanda. After a Hutu released prisoner attended one of the workshops, he asked to speak with her. Here is how Laura Shipler Chico tells the story:
And he began to talk: During the genocide he and his wife had done terrible things, he told her. They killed many people – so many they were not sure how many – and when they were killing they did so with zeal. Forty bodies were found buried around their house. They had done terrible, terrible things.
This man had heard Solange’s testimony during the workshop. He knew what she had been through, and he knew that she did trauma healing work. He wanted to tell her his story. He wanted to tell her what he was going through now. He wanted to start to heal from all that he had done.
“It is something,” Solange said, “to be trusted. That is something. Here in Rwanda, who can we trust?” Solange said she was afraid, but she sat and she listened. She listened deeply. She listened to all that this man had encountered since he was released from prison – his home had been destroyed, his land gone to weed….
When I asked Solange for permission to tell this story, awed by her capacity for compassion, her unwillingness to stay the victim, and her ability to see a man like that as a complex human being who abuses and suffers and saves like the rest of us, she said, “Yes. It’s no problem. Please tell everyone you know. Because, to me, this man – it is not that I think what he did is OK--but now, this man, to me, is a hero.”
Yes, this man did some very terrible things. But he is alive in this world and he still has that of God still within him and can become a caring person. Regardless of what bad things someone did in the past, we must believe that they can be transformed and act upon those beliefs. If Rwandans don’t do this, how will they ever heal their country? Can we do this in America? Her lesson for us is that we must be brave enough to bring enemies together face to face to talk and reconcile.
The last testimony I wish to present is my favorite.
I am a Tutsi living in the Internally Displaced Person’s camp. I was around ten when the war reached our area. I remember that day when Hutu beat my young brother to death. My mum asked our Hutu neighbor to escort her so that she could take my brother to the hospital. Pitilessly, he told her “Don’t you know where you have buried your husband? Take him there too!” Hopelessly, my mum and I went to the hospital but my brother died in mum’s arms before we could reach the hospital. We turned back and took the trail to the cemetery. Only two of us, two females, buried my brother. After we were done, we went home crying. Since that time, I considered the Hutu man as a monster as well as his wife and children.
After the HROC workshop I attended, I used to sit and meditate. One day, I decided to rebuild the destroyed relationship with that family. Unfortunately, the man had died. Still, I went to his daughter, who is almost my age, and told her my sad story. I openly told her that this was the only reason that I hated them. She was very sorry to