Saturday- July 21st
After an exciting night of playing sardines and hide and seek around the hotel, we arose early for an emotional day. When we arrived at Nyamata in the morning, one third of the group left with Ester and Blanche (two of the Nyamata girls) to do home visits. We first arrived at Ester’s house where we met her father and helped with cleaning their yard clear of garbage. Ester’s family greatly appreciated the aid and gifs that we gave them. We then continued on to Blanches house. Along the way we finally understood how far the girls have to walk to get to and from school. At Blanches house we were greeted with open arms by her uncle, her brother, and her mother who was not able to walk well due to a car accident. Blanches mother repeatedly showed her gratitude by praying for us and blessing us. She was especially thankful when we gave her a gift of fruit.
Meanwhile back at the school, the other students were engaged in an art lesson taught by Camille and Lily. We learned along with the Nyamata students how to draw eyes and other inanimate objects. After drawing them, the students were required to label what they’d drawn and identify different parts. We then had each student present to the group what they’d drawn using adjectives such as “big” and “green”. This activity was especially helpful for the girls working on new vocabulary.
After lunch we walked to another genocide memorial next to the school. It was a church that over 2,000 people had hidden in for three months until they were slaughtered by their own neighbors. As we walked to it, there was an air of sadness among everyone, and no one felt up to talking. The inside of the church was filled with all of the clothes that the victims had worn while they were killed. In some spots we could still see bloodstains and bullet holes. The tour guide mentioned many torturous acts that the victims had experienced before death. At one point we descended into a basin of the church where there were some of the bones and a coffin containing a woman who had been especially tortured by rape. She was one of many. We then went just outside of the church where there was a mass grave. Inside of the grave was a long narrow hallway with shelves to the roof. Skulls and femur bones filled these shelves as well as more coffins of whole skeletons. It was damp and cold and everyone felt a creepy chill. After the memorial we walked back to the school to say our goodbyes and head back to Kigali. It was a great bonding experience to go through the church with the girls and we are all excited to see them again tomorrow.
Julia S and Cate