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FORGIVENESS IS MY FREEDOM My story and how I overcame adversity to reclaim my humanity.

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Presentation on theme: "FORGIVENESS IS MY FREEDOM My story and how I overcame adversity to reclaim my humanity."— Presentation transcript:

1 FORGIVENESS IS MY FREEDOM My story and how I overcame adversity to reclaim my humanity.

2 Rwanda Pre-Genocide Born in middle class family in Nyanza-Rwanda

3 Childhood Last born of 10 children

4 Childhood Attended best school in area- H.V.P Gatagara Very bright student and great athlete (loved soccer!) Attended church daily

5 My Family Dad-Dennis Kalima and Mom Cecilia Kalima Sister Beata Sister-EmerithaBrother-Egide Kalima

6 Brief Rwandan History Prior to colonization two tribes, Tutsi and Hutu lived in relative harmony 1897 Rwanda was colonized by Germany I916 Belgians took over Belgian invaders decided that the Tutsi tribe was superior due to their features ( measuring the long nose ) So began the history of back and forth oppression between the two tribes ( Hutu and Tutsi) 1959 the first Tutsi massacre; many of them fled the country Rwanda gained independence in Hutu Power started

7 My Life The dissent between the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s impacted me and my family to some extent during my childhood, however for the most part I was shaded from this division and enjoyed a normal childhood. I am Tutsi, however that didn’t mean much to me at the time as my parents raised me to love everyone.

8 However, around me a storm was brewing Invasion of Tutsi exiled 1990 Oppression of Tutsis living inside the country Introduction of Travel Document and Check points Political instability Country is divided

9 Everything Changed… In 1994 the president’s plane crashed. The president Habyarimana was Hutu. His plane was shot down after signing a peace agreement with the Tutsi rebels. It was announced on the radio that he had been killed by the Tutsi tribe and every Tutsi must killed…so began the genocide

10 Genocide I was minding my business in my home when I heard the announcement of the president’s crash on the radio, my mother had a look of worry on her face. On the radio I heard the phrase “All Tutsi must die”

11 Genocide The killing start right away in the capital city of Kigali People are fled the cities The killings are spread all over the country People were killed mostly with machetes but also with guns and other weapons.

12 Genocide at my Hometown My house was attacked by genocide government soldiers when I was at home with my mother. My father had died about a month earlier. We later learned that he was likely poisoned as the militia worked strategically to get rid of community leaders prior to the start of the genocide My house was looted and damaged. I ran and hid in the bushes near my house as entire villages were destroyed.

13 Returning to my house At the time the killings started I was 14. I had no idea what to do. After initially fleeing I decided to Return to check on my house. I found that everyone has fled and went to hide Doors and windows and broken Decided to flee to the next village So I began an hour walking journey in darkness. I used back roads to avoid check points.

14 Reaching Munyaneza’s House After leaving my home, not knowing where to go I decided to go to my former Hutu housemaid’s house. His name was Munyaneza. When I arrived I was hesitantly welcomed but I was able to use the bathroom and eat I was at Munyaneza’s house for about a week when rumors began to circulatethat I was there Munyaneza learned that his house will be attacked in middle of the night I decided to leave his house

15 Waiting to cross the river I left Munyaneza’s house in the middle of the night with Munyaneza. I was unable to cross the river at night and unable to use the main roads because of the check points. I waited by the bushes next to the small river and waited for sunrise to cross the river.

16 Caught and beaten As the sun rose Munyaneza and I attempted to cross the river we were spotted by the militias. A mob of men rushed toward us and caught me. Munyaneza tried to protect me and covered me with his body. He was beaten and his arm was broken

17 Left in a ditch of dead bodies I was struck by a machete on my head. I passed out and was thrown in a ditch full of dead bodies. I woke up surrounded by the dead bodies I was Confused and Terrified

18 Trying to flee the killing site After I regained consciousness I got up and started walking The mob spotted me and screamed/yelled: “ Snakes don’t die” I was captured once again and dragged to the nearest make shift prison I was imprisoned waiting to be killed again

19 Scenes at the killing site( highway) While at the killing site I witness horrors that are hard for most people to imagine. Heads are being chopped off Women are being gang raped Killers are having fun using chain saw to kill people Kids are being smashed against the tarmac Bullets are flying all over At this point I was ready to die

20 Hoping to be shot by a bullet I ran from the killing site hoping to be shot. Shots were fired but I was not hit. I took cover in a trench and found some of my extended family hiding where I was.

21 Seeing family members dead At one point while I was running I found my aunties dead, legs spread, tree stuck between their legs I covered them and ran away confused. Still not knowing where to go I decided to return to my house

22 Seeking a help from my neighbor As I approached my house my neighbor told me “The killers are looking for you and your family, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!” The neighbor also told me that my mother was hiding at the church. I then decided to go to the church to be with my mother. She wept when she saw my condition. She told me to go because she did not want to see me killed. My feelings were hurt and I felt unwanted after my mother told me to go.

23 Hiding in unfinished house I ran from the church and hid in unfinished house close to the church My mom came to see me She told me to BE A MAN Mayor came to declare peace Left the unfinished house Follow the mayor and chief police Heading the mayor office for protection

24 Tricked Mayor changed his mind Placed us in make shift prisons Started killing older male and educated women Finishing day came Ran again hoping to be shot Shots were fired at my escaping crowd Young men are being hit by bullets and are dropping

25 Sniffed out!!! Hid in banana plantation Dogs are used to search Dog sniffed me out Caught and arms tied on my back Gun/pistol on my head Took the last money It is your last day “ S.O. B”

26 Did not know it was the last time I was eventually brought back to the killing site Cars were being loaded My mother was pushed and shoved in small trunk of Red Datsun Don’t push son, I can do by my self: My mom said Defenseless and powerless Wanted to fight and rescue my mother Driven away Taken to the mayor office and killed, buried in mass grave Last time I saw my mother!!!!!!!!!!! RIP MOM

27 Waiting for my turn Cars are overloaded with people waiting to be killed We will get you on second round Returned to the make shift prisons Surrounded/guarded by intoxicated killers Looked through the window and took off Killers yelled and shouted, bullets are flying over my head Kept running

28 Ran towards the swamp area Found a high ground and sit there Killers hoped that I will to come out or be killed by wild animals Started a long stay Lost my vision and hearing My region is liberated Liberation soldiers are calling out Fear of getting caught again, thinking it was the same trick used before by the Mayor Starving to death My cousin took chance to save my life Liberation soldiers rescued me Swamps Mid April-Late June

29 Internal Refugee Camp Place in Internal Refuge Camp Moved to another Refugee Camp No place to live Traumatized and Desperate Placed in institutions/schools Foster families Fed up and ready to leave the country for GOOD

30 Fleeing the Country Around the end of 1995 I left Rwanda heading to Kenya. I was hoping to find my siblings. After a brief stint in Kenya I went to Tanzania, returned to Kenya then finally gave up hope and went to Uganda to attend school.

31 Rubber Ball Found a boarding school Athletic scholarship Mr. John Ssimbwa became my mentor Started contacting colleges in USA Invited to Savannah Georgia in 1998 Attended Chicago High School Continued to IUSB Got hurt and basketball career ended

32 America

33 New life Found a full time job Got married Adopted two orphans from Rwanda Reconciled with my past and found healing

34 Today I teach/talk to people about forgiveness Forgiving and healing has given me a peace that I never imagined Helping people is my therapy

35 You can overcome too!!! Whatever you are going through know that you can overcome it! You have to first make a conscious decision to CHANGE You then have to take steps to get to a better place: surround yourself with supportive people, don’t hold on to anger, talk to people who can help you (did therapy in Chicago and it really helped), do good things for others (the biggest part of my healing has been working to help others even though so many people did wrong to me. Forgiveness is possible, Healing is possible…I know, because I am living proof

36 How can you help? Contact me about how you can help Amahoro Project for Forgiveness and Reconciliation. My organization that seeks to spread the word about Forgiveness and Reconciliation


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