Tuesday 12 November 2019

'Roller-coaster of emotions' - Doireann Garrihy 'floored' by Rwanda trip

Poignant: Ingabire Mushumba, from Rwamagana, whose life is being transformed by gifts of Irish cows through Bóthar. Photo: Sean Curtin True Media.
Poignant: Ingabire Mushumba, from Rwamagana, whose life is being transformed by gifts of Irish cows through Bóthar. Photo: Sean Curtin True Media.
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Broadcaster Doireann Garrihy has admitted to "being floored" by her first day in Rwanda, 25 years after the 1994 genocide.

The 2FM star and her father Eugene travelled to the central African country this week to see first-hand the work being carried out by Irish charity Bóthar since the mass slaughter.

The duo got to see one of the Irish heifers - 30 were sent out two weeks ago - in her new home just six weeks after they saw her at Shelton Abbey Prison, Co Wicklow.

Having arrived in Rwanda to see their progress, Ms Garrihy admitted it was hard to come to terms with how the nation had fallen, but heart-warming to see how it is rising again.

"It's such a roller-coaster of emotions," she said.

"There's poverty here at a level that you won't see in too many countries and then you see this family that has been donated an Irish cow and how it is going to change their lives.

Doireann Garrihy with Mukakabogo Gaudance, a genocide widow from Rwamagana. Photo: Sean Curtin True Media.
Doireann Garrihy with Mukakabogo Gaudance, a genocide widow from Rwamagana. Photo: Sean Curtin True Media.

"One woman who lost her husband and children said she had completely lost hope in the years following the genocide but now she has hope again thanks to this donation. It makes you so proud that Irish people are doing this," she said.

Her father Eugene said the first day of their five-day visit had left them in disbelief at how bad it had been there during those three horrific months of 1994. "It's actually hard to take in," he said.

"We've just been to one of many memorials and there were the remains of 25,000 people amassed in just a few hundred coffins.

"The clothes that the people were killed in were there, personal items like crosses and other jewellery, some items that were used to kill also. They don't try to hide anything here and maybe that's helping them in some way. They don't hide the memory of it as a nation.

"All those people in that memorial were killed in a small area of the country not much larger than the part of west Clare where I grew up, 25,000 people in a small place. It's just hard to grasp.

"The personal stories of survivors are horrific. We met one woman who hasn't been able to walk since the genocide. She was stabbed, beaten and raped. She lost eight children and a husband in the genocide. But now, Bóthar has been connected with her and she has a fine Irish cow that her son is going to farm. It's going to change her life," he said.

Bóthar has been flying cows over to the region since 1991, helping provide impoverished families with a new source of sustenance.

Irish Independent

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