Encounters with conflict and peace

Are we really over this?

John Steward remembers the questions well: "Will I be next to suffer? Will I be the next to go?”
John Steward, Rwanda
John first came to Rwanda in 1997 to manage the healing, peace-building and reconciliation program for World Vision. I caught up with him on a rainy Saturday morning in Kigali in December 2007. It was his sixteenth visit to Rwanda in ten years.

“They were tough days. You had this cauldron of a million people who’d lived in exile for up to forty years and two million recent refugees, all coming back to mix with the survivors and with perpetrators who hadn’t yet been identified.

I saw a country moving at half pace, things taking so long to be done. People sitting around, people full of fear, people suspicious of other people, whispering against other people, "watch out for this person... watch out for that person." Just a complete absence of trust.
Annet Ikiirisa, Rwanda
Annet came to Rwanda from Uganda in September 1994 and took a job helping to re-unite orphan children with any surviving relatives. Her parents were Rwandan but she had grown up in Uganda as an exile.

"There was a lot of suspicion and a lot of questions. Where was the international community? What did the UN do? Where was God during the genocide? Why did he leave us? Why does God hate the Tutsi? Why do the mzungu hate the Tutsi? They didn’t do anything to save us.”
Related pages
The aid worker
John said, "I saw a country moving at half pace. People full of fear, struggling to get food - frantic to get jobs, dislocated and separated from their communities. I quickly realised that the government was proclaiming the need for justice and the church was preaching forgiveness, but people were hurt inside....
Annet: I came to Rwanda
My work was to talk to the children to try to find out where their families might be. I would trace their families and try to find out whether they had relatives or parents still living and, if possible, re-unite them with their families. Later I'd go to visit them, to follow them up and see how they are doing in their communities....
The importance of justice
When you take away the justice system - the police, the lawyers, the courts and the jails - and it’s just two groups facing each other with some terrible event coming between them, how do you do justice? John Steward talks about the dilemma...
read more

< previous page    |    next page >