Old media reports deprive Rwandan genocide survivors of the right to be forgotten

Audience at the main Rwandan genocide commemoration event at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali on the 7th of April, 2014. Photo: Sally Hayden.

One of the biggest challenges following the Rwandan genocide was getting it classified as such. As the international community faltered and fiddled and failed to appreciate what was happening, Rwandans shouted their experiences through shrouds of shock, grateful to anyone would listen and believe that such horror was possible.

Now with each anniversary those stories and images reappear throughout the media. And many survivors, once so grateful for a voice, have come to resent this exposure.

This issue first came to my attention in a conference in the Rwandan parliament on the weekend that this year's official period of mourning began. As questions were taken from the floor, a passionate voice piped up. “I'm not asking about what happened because I was there and I have seen it, but there is another issue now. As survivors we all wanted to tell and to say what had happened. There are at least two or three women I know pregnant from rape, they only wanted to talk. But twenty years later you still see your image coming out from BBC, CNN...” Speaking, I learn, is Odette Nyiramilimo, a physician, former government minister and current East African senator. Ethnically a Tutsi, she survived the genocide in the Hotel des Mille Collines, a scene later depicted in the film 'Hotel Rwanda'.

We meet again a few weeks later. Nyiramilimo sits in a bright, airy office, on the fourth floor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A portrait of President Paul Kagame hangs over her head. She's busy; her phone buzzes as we talk.

She tells me story after story.

The story of a girl, aged 15 during the genocide, who was taken by her parents' killers to the DRC and raped. When she escaped she was pregnant, and after she gave birth to a son she handed him to relatives to raise so she could attend university and start her life anew. She met a boy and they got engaged; then he travelled to Canada to finish his schooling. There, on the TV, he saw old footage of her speaking about her rape and called her in shock. With her engagement over, the girl called Nyiramilimo asking “what do I do? I don't want that story to be following me my whole life. Now I am well, I just finished university and I want to be normal.”

Lebanese school for the deaf is taking in Syrian refugees

Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf (FAID) teacher in a classroom with pupils, Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Barry Gunning.

A former Irish soldier is helping raise thousands of euro for a school for deaf children in Lebanon which is taking in terrified refugees from war-torn Syria.

Big-hearted Christy Kinsella (62) set up Lebanon Trust which gives vital assistance to the Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf (FAID) in Beirut which caters for more than 70 local kids including 11 who have fled across the border from Syria.

Dubliner Christy and friends set up the charity in 2009 to help poor families he met while serving on UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon.

Lebanon Trust volunteers regularly travel to Beirut and recently delivered funds to help hire a speech therapist while tradesmen on the trip carried out repairs to the FAID school grounds.

Christy said: "We provide financial support and practical work and we rely on a network of volunteers.”

School director Krikor Khasholian said: "We are so grateful for all the support we get from Ireland because it wouldn't be possible to run our school without this assistance."