Part 1: Will you tell me your story? She nods, folds her hands in her lap, and stares off. “I left my village and went to Kigali to sell my baskets. That night the President’s plane went down.” The day was April 6th, 1994. That was the start of genocide. For 90 days, the Hutu tribe massacred the Tutsi tribe. It was reported that 1,000,000 died.
Meet Pascasie. She was a weaver who was trapped in the capital city and unable to go home. She hid at a Catholic Church along with hundreds of other people. 7 days after after the plane crashed, Hutu members came to the church and started separating some of the men from the group. Once separated, they killed them in front of everyone. Pascasie did not know if she was gonna live or die that day. At this point she had no idea of what was happening or if this was only happening in just the capital and not in the outlying villages. Pascasie was tearing up and had a faraway look in her eyes. Even though it happened 26 years ago, it was still very fresh. She is a married mother of 6 and she didn’t know how her family was doing. She stayed in the church fearing for her life but she couldn’t leave. The Hutu came back June 6th and pulled the rest of the men from the group and killed them. “Only 1 woman died that day. She couldn’t bear to leave her husband so she followed him and they killed her. They planned to come back in a couple of days to kill the rest of us.”
Pascasie is wiping her eyes and I am openly crying doing my best to capture her story. Though she sits across from me, I can feel her pain. It’s as if she is there again.
“They dig holes so they could kill and bury us and sometimes they would just bury people alive.” Just before they were to kill them, the army came and stopped them. The army secured Kigali before heading to the other villages. it would be months before she could head to her village and know the truth.
I struggled with her story for days and wanted to share it in a respectful way. It’s easy to lose the person in the event. 1,000,000 people is just too large to wrap our minds around. But to hear Pascasie’s account allows us to put ourselves into her story and try to understand the horrific nature of the event. Stay tuned for part 2.