Now grown up: The Rwandan genocide orphans who found a bigger family
Updated : April 05, 2019 09:28 PM IST
Vincent de Paul Ruhumuriza was born in Rwanda just a few months before genocide consigned his father to an unknown grave and traumatized his mother so badly she still screams and shakes at any mention of that time.
But, helped by a model of healing dating back to the Holocaust, the 25-year-old has finished his education and blended into a new family, where individuals grieving lost loved ones have rebuilt their lives by caring for each other.
Then, in 2014, just as Ruhumuriza was about to drop out, his school got in touch with the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, whose Hebrew-Kinyarwandan name translates as "the place where tears are dried".
The village was set up in 2008 by a South African-born lawyer, Anne Heyman, who had worked in the United States. Heyman and her husband raised more than $12 million to help care for families ripped apart by the genocide, taking their model from Israel's Youth Villages, which created new families for children whose parents had died in the Holocaust.
Rwanda's genocide, sparked by the assassination of the president, lasted around 100 days and stopped after rebels fought their way to the capital, led by Paul Kagame, Rwanda's current ruler.
More than 95,000 children were orphaned, the United Nations estimates, and around 300,000 children were killed. For some of the survivors, Heyman's village offered healing and purpose.