DANIEL

There was an issue between Pelagie and myself because I robbed their property. She would try to encourage me to get close to her but I was scared.

 

I ran away to Congo but life was not good there. I had a wife and children but lost them there as we were fleeing. I never saw them again, and my current wife is the second one I married when I got released from jail.

 

At a certain point, I reasoned to myself, saying that Pelagie is not bad to my children or me, therefore I should encourage myself and approach her. So I went to her and told her, “I have come to ask for forgiveness from what my brother and I destroyed in your family properties. He is not here but I come in his name too. I was in the mob that hunted your father down and later looted and destroyed your properties.”

 

She forgave me and we slowly became used to each other. I would go to her place easily and we were no longer scared of each other.

Some of us (who were involved in the genocide) became free. Before we confessed what we did, we were not yet free. Even those we offended became free that we are now living as the good neighbors we were before. Apart from the bad leadership we had in the country that brought divisions among us, our families actually had a good relationship with each other before.

PELAGIE

When the genocide started, we all ran for our lives. Luckily my husband managed to get to Kabgayi before me. I stayed behind with some of the children. There were difficult days, it was so hard for me to get out of this area and breakthrough. Very bad, unspeakable things happened to me. But finally, I got to Kabgayi.

 

Daniel got my father out of his hiding and took him to the mob, hoping to be the one who killed him. The mob led him to his death place and it was a big mob that they snatched him from Daniel. It made Daniel sad because he wanted to kill him himself and take away the money he had. After killing my father, one of the killers came to me where I was sitting in the valley and told me how he died and how he was bleeding so much, he said “but your father had a lot of blood, wow.” Hearing that, I felt as if my back broke into two, I lifted my hand and touched my shoulder to support myself, then that man asked me “are you sad, is there anything bad?” I said “no, no, everything is very fine. There is no problem at all.” I knew that saying otherwise would mean my death too. After that, they looted our properties. I don’t like to think about my own story because it reminds me of how they took away my husband just after a long nice talk with him where we talked about fleeing the genocide. I asked him not to ever come back here, and he agreed. The day of that conversation is the same day the mob came, got him out and killed him. 

After the genocide, I almost lost my mind and went to look for a land in Umutara area (East of the country) because I did not have enough strength to come back in this area. My mother called for me and encouraged me to stay home. It was hard but I managed. Mostly meeting other women who went through what I went through encouraged me and we encouraged each other, which was very helpful.

 

Daniel was imprisoned but because he and his family denied what he did they always tried to bribe the courts. It was a hard journey. Finally, he was convicted and paid his sentence. But his mother who was living just up here hated us said bad things about us, it was really bad. CARSA did a great job of helping me realize that forgiveness is what helps us live well again. After the workshop, I was able to release Daniel from the hatred keeping him in my heart, and he also asked for forgiveness. We have had a good relationship since then. We were given a cow for peace, I gave him its calf when it gave birth, and because my house fell and I had to come and stay with my mother I asked him to keep it for me for a while. Now my cow is at his house, I trust him even better than before.