Trocaire making a difference in Rwanda
On the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Rwanda genocide, which began on April 7, 1994, Trócaire has thanked the people of Co. Carlow for supporting its work to help survivors strengthen their livelihoods and rebuild peace in their communities in the last two decades.
Twenty years ago, when the genocide took place, church collections were held across Co Carlow, which helped Trócaire to raise £6 million (€7.6 million) in its emergency appeal for Rwanda. This was at the time the largest public appeal in the organisation's history.
'Trócaire established a presence in Rwanda to respond to the genocide and 20 years on, Trócaire is still working in the country thanks to support from people in Co Carlow,' said Éamonn Meehan, Trócaire's Executive Director. 'Today, the organisation runs an agriculture programme that is helping people from poor rural areas to produce food and a governance and human rights programme that is building peace and reconciliation and improving people's participation in local government.'
Éamonn, who was in Rwanda during the genocide, added: 'The Rwanda genocide was one of the bloodiest chapters of the 20th century. Not since World War II had people been murdered on such a scale and with such a speed. Over the course of just 100 days, approximately one million people were killed.'
But he warned that 20 years on, the world has not learnt lessons from the Rwanda genocide. 'When the genocide ended, the familiar cry of 'never again' rang around the globe. Twenty years on, we have to ask: do these two words actually mean anything? The world knew of the impending slaughter in Rwanda but chose to ignore it. Today when you look at innocent people being killed in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, it is clear that the international community is still ignoring warning signs.'
People from Co Carlow also generously supported Trócaire's Lenten Campaign in 2004, which was about the generation of young people living after the genocide.
Josienne Umumarashavu (22) was just 12 when she appeared with her skipping rope on the 2004 Trócaire box under the heading 'Rwanda: The Generation After Genocide'. Her father, sister and two of her brothers had been killed. Trócaire supported her mother and remaining family after the genocide.
Today, Josienne is attending university and getting ready to graduate from a degree in accountancy thanks to support from Ireland.
'I still have a copy of the photograph and the Trócaire box in my home,' she said. 'It makes me very happy to look at it and to think that people in Ireland saw my photo and thought about life in Rwanda.
Visit trocaire.org/rwanda to watch a Trócaire video documentary about reconciliation in Rwanda following the genocide.