This week, I had the amazing opportunity to be in a Year 8 class who were being visited by a Bishop and Archdeacon from Rwanda. They were here to talk to the pupils about the horrific genocide that took place in 1994, and how the Shyira Trust is raising money to help the country back to its feet. Having previously looked into the Rwandan genocide when I was in school, I was really excited to be meeting and talking to people who lived through it, and are now helping others to return to normality after the atrocities.
After explaining what the genocide was, and how many people were affected by it (around 1,000,000 people died in just 100 days), they then went on to explain how, with the help of faith, people have managed to put the past behind them. For a lot of the pupils, the simply couldn’t understand how the people of Rwanda have been able to not only forgive, but live alongside the people who played a part in the genocide. The Bishop and Archdeacon explained that for them and many others, forgiveness was a central part of the Christian faith, and this helped them find it within themselves to forgive. Bible quotations such as “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you” are a perfect example to show why the people of Rwanda (where Christianity is the major religion) feel that is important to forgive their persecutors and live peaceably together.
The Bishop and Archdeacon answered any questions as thoroughly as possible, and made sure that the pupils understood before moving on to talk about the work of the Shyira Trust and its achievements since its establishment. They have helped child-headed households, funded 300 students through secondary school, and are currently raising money to rebuild the maternity hospital. All of the pupils seemed really interested in what the Bishop and Archdeacon were saying, and definitely all took something away from the session.
Meeting people from Rwanda was a brilliant opportunity for the pupils to talk about what religion is like in countries other than the UK, and see how modern day religion can be a huge help in getting people, and countries, back to some sense of normality after tragedy.