The story of Alexis, an ex-prisoner

After nearly 20 years, deep-rooted trauma from the Rwandan genocide still haunts many. Through our reconciliation work in Rwanda, we bring together victims and perpetrators of the genocide against the Tutsi by providing microfinance, trauma counselling and dialogue clubs.

This programme from International Alert Rwanda helps the communities to move forward and rebuild their lives together, avoiding the risk of renewed conflict.

Alexis’s story

@ Carol Allen-Storey/International Alert

Alexis is 53, married and has two children.

“I was a soldier with the Interahamwe militia. When I was on a killing rampage during the genocide I felt no remorse; I thought it was the right thing to do. Killing Tutsis was no big thing. My prayer is that in the future no one is deceived the way I was to hate Tutsis, to kill them. I did terrible things to innocent people. Why?

“I was accused of killing many families in my community, which I confessed to. The local Gacaca court found me guilty of the crimes and I was sentenced to 20 years in jail. I had spent more than eight years incarcerated before I came to trial so my sentence was educed to 12 years. Soon after I was released I found a woman and married.

“Through the local dialogue clubs in our village I learned to shed my shame as I shared stories with fellow villagers, survivors and perpetrators side by side.”

I owe much to the dialogue club, which creates an atmosphere where forgiveness thrives. The survivors have accepted me.

“I help many old women survivors because they have no family, no one to give them support. I am there for them. I am at peace with myself.

Our pineapple plantation brings together survivors, ex-prisoners and ex-combatants. We work side by side for common a good.”

For the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi we went back to find out how Alexis and the pineapple plantation are doing, five years on.

Read other inspiring stories of Rwandan people rebuilding their lives after the genocide: