Rwanda Youth & Children's Testimonies

This collection contains 864 testimonies that were written in exercise books by students in Rwandan high schools between late 1999 and early 2000.  Each testimony depicts the first-hand account of a child’s experiences from the beginning of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda until the child was rescued.  All of the testimonies were collected from children who lived in the Gitarama Prefecture when the 1994 Rwanda genocide began following the downing of the plane carrying Rwandan President Habyarimana and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi on the evening of 6th April 1994.  The testimonies paint a very vivid picture of how genocide was carried out, the places the children hid, and their means and location of escape.  Many describe how Tutsi and moderate Hutu property was looted or destroyed and include the names of the perpetrators and victims of the genocide.  The children also tell of the experiences they endured during their flight to safety and in the hands of genocide perpetrators.  The people who hid the children, including some of their family members, are revealed. In some testimonies, the children identify the challenges they have experienced in post-genocide Rwanda.

Francois Karangwa

a boy from Commune Masango in Gitarama Prefecture

...our captors told us to sit down. After sitting, they took away all the money each one of us had and it all added up to 8500 FRW. Afterwards, our captors started beating all the men we were with and it reached a point they killed one of the men. The rest of us were also beaten to a point we nearly died and that is when our captors released us to go and die in our homes...

Jacqueline Hagenimana

a girl from Masango Commune in Gitarama Prefecture

...I witnessed my maternal uncle being forced to dig a pit. Once he completed digging the pit, he was thrown inside and his tormentors buried him and only his head was left above the ground. His tormentors then beat him in the head using clubs and when I protested, they chased after me and was lucky to outrun them...