It has been one of those days...emotions nearly run amok, running the gamut from morning to evening in a day filled to overflowing with sights and experiences, with death and life, with people and places unlike anything at home.
The morning began with a lovely walk up to our favorite coffee shop, Bourbon Street, combining exercise with conversation and people-watching and a really good latte. Then it was off to the Ntarama Genoside Memorial, a small brick church well outside Kigali where several thousand Tutsis were slaughtered by Hutus, many of them their neighbors. They had fled to the church for safe haven but were hunted down and killed by their fellow countrymen wielding machetes, clubs, knives, and heavy steel balls which could easily crush skulls. Soldiers came with grenade launchers, blowing holes in the walls so the killers could get in. Among those killed were many children, taken to their Sunday school room be slain.
How can I begin to describe feelings which flooded my heart and mind upon seeing not only skulls and others bones but the clothing of the slaughtered, torn and blood-stained? To see some of the weapons of massive destruction? To hear our guide explain that the huge stain on wall of the Sunday school room had been made by the bashing of the heads of the children against that wall?
Unspeakable...and yet only by speaking about it can the Rwandan people get through the horror and be certain they will never let such a thing happen again.
Sitting quietly...taking quietly with our good friend, Simon, himself a genocide survivor...realizing how difficult such a place is for him to visit, even as tears slid down my cheeks, as my heart broke with the harsh reality of human inhumanity. Never again...that's the mantra...never again.
And then we were in a village where another friend, Florence, a young woman of only about twenty years, has begun a business, a small restaurant which seems to be doing a thriving business after only three months in operation. She was so proud to show us her place, to give us lunch, and to present us with thank-you gifts since some the money she used to get started came from us and our friends. It was a joy to see her obvious pride and happiness, even as I found part of my heart still back at the memorial.
After a bit of packing and just putting our feet up for a bit, it was evening and time meet our young artist-friends from the Inema Arts Center for dinner here at Heaven Restaurant. It was an evening filled with good food, laughter, and delightful conversation. And now I'm in bed, about to go sleep in preparation for the flight tomorrow...grateful...contented...full of joy yet fully mindful of how close to the surface sadness lies.
I say goodbye to Rwanda, well aware that I will leave a piece of me behind.