Its nearly twenty years after the Rwanda Genocide and there remains with us a strong and lingering sadness.
In 1994, only six months after the RPF victory and the end of the slaughter, the first soldiers from the United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda II arrived in-country. Australia provided the medical contingent. Following a long tradition of embedding “war artists” with their troops in conflict areas, we were attached to the first rotation of Australian Forces to Rwanda. Our brief was to document the impact of the Australian unit. Like so many others, we believed the Genocide had ended once the killings had ceased.
In 2006 and 2008 we returned to Rwanda to find the traces of Australia’s involvement in contemporary society. What we discovered was that for many survivors there is no life after the genocide. They have lost, and continue to loose, their health, their dignity, their security and their liberty. In many ways, through the omission of the international community to enforce notions of justice, the genocide continues.
As we spoke to survivors it was obvious that many see their lives as forever altered. Many carry the scars of the Genocide - both physically and emotionally. They shared their stories with us in the hope that people will care. We carry their stories so people will know. Over time we have come to understand that through their stories each person validates their survival.
Angela Blakely & David Lloyd