The story of Esperance

In Rwanda, International Alert is helping to heal the traumatic wounds of the genocide by bringing together former combatants and prisoners, survivors, and young people who have grown up in the shadow of the past.

Esperance is 52, widowed with four children. This is her story.

When the genocide began I was living with my parents. The local Hutu gang raided our house and demanded that my nephew kill his mother who was Tutsi. When he refused, they attacked him using traditional weapons to create maximum pain. After torturing him, they went next door to his mother’s home and slaughtered her unmercifully. The most horrendous image I have from that haunting day in April was seeing my Tutsi sister-in-law lying on the floor, blood splattered everywhere. For many years after the genocide war ended, I suffered from grinding poverty and a sense of isolation; I was deeply depressed and desperate.

I had heard that the reconciliation programme was extraordinary in helping people to recapture their broken lives from the genocide. Since becoming a member of the Dialogue Club I no longer feel alone with my problems. Now I have people who listen to me, counsel me, people who care.

After all those years of living under a cloud of depression, I am feeling happy. I tell my children they must love, not hate … not to have prejudice, as that was the cause of the war. My dream is to have lasting peace and stability in Rwanda so I can send my children to school.”

We have been helping local partners to provide people like Esperance with trauma counselling, dialogue clubs and microfinance opportunities to help them move out of the shadows of the past.

Help us tell more stories like Esperance’s; stories of reconciliation, hope and peace. Your gift of £10 a month could help:

• train dialogue club facilitators
• set up dialogue clubs in ten districts
• train new trauma counsellors.

Support International Alert today and help many more people to live their lives in peace. Thank you.

You can find out more about our work in Rwanda here and watch our film to hear more remarkable stories like Esperance’s.