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Rwandan genocide survivors to share stories at City Hall

SURVIVOR: Eric with young footballers in Rwanda (Image: Katie Garner)

SURVIVORS OF the 1994 Rwandan genocide will meet with students and teachers from 25 London schools for a special event to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.

At a workshop held at London’s City Hall on May 20, survivors, students and teachers will reflect on what we can learn from Rwanda in London today. The event will be the culmination of months of activities in schools. The session will end with a formal commemoration service attended by schools, Rwandans in London and Londoners connected to Rwanda.

In the early 1990s, co-founders of the Ishami Foundation Eric Murangwa Eugene and Jo Ingabire Moys never dreamed London would one day be their home. Eric, who was the goalkeeper for Rwanda’s biggest football club, Rayon Sports, survived the genocide, hidden by his football teammates. Jo was just five years old when she witnessed her father, brother and two sisters being killed in front of her but survived multiple gunshot wounds after a neighbour came to help the family.

While Jo and Eric went into hiding, over a million people were killed in just 100 days. After the genocide attacks on remaining survivors by rebel groups continued.

Fearing for their lives, Jo and Eric moved to London where they joined a growing Rwandan community who were still recovering from the trauma of genocide and the pain of leaving home. In 2015 they decided to found Survivors Tribune – an organisation supporting survivors of recent genocides to speak about their experiences in public. In 2018 Survivors Tribune joined with Eric’s sporting organisation Football for Hope Peace and Unity to form the Ishami Foundation.

PICTURED: Jo Ingabire Moys

Eric Murangwa Eugene, Ishami Foundation CEO, said: “We currently work with survivors, schools and universities all over the country – from St Andrew’s to Cardiff, from Brighton to Birmingham. But for the 25th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi we wanted to focus our efforts on the capital and bringing schools together at City Hall to meet with survivors and reflect on the past."

EDUCATION: Eric talks to schoolchildren about the Rwandan genocide

He added: "London has been my home for over 20 years. I’ve seized the chance to work with the mayor’s team to connect this city with lessons from Rwanda, the country of my birth.”

Ishami Foundation partnered with Hampton School and King’s College London to produce teaching resources explaining the history of genocide alongside stories from survivors and other young people whose lives were changed in 1994. Many of these accounts came from work being done by Jo Ingabire Moys for her 100 Stories for 100 Days project, which focuses on Rwandans telling their stories in their own words.

Andy Lawrence, head of history at Hampton School, said such stories were a key motivation for him to join the project: “The genocide against the Tutsi is still hardly taught in schools. After my students study the Holocaust it is tempting for them to think that the calls for ‘Never Again’ were heeded. The events in Rwanda in 1994 prove to them that the world didn’t learn, that genocide can still take place today.

"This project is unique in bringing students from across London together to interact with survivors. Meeting a survivor is the most meaningful learning experience my students will have all year.”

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