Neighbors murdered their neighbors. Frederic Kazigwemo has, for example, killed several people. He said he was jailed for more than nine years. After his release he got a small piece of land and a house in Mbyo.
The genocide did not only take human lives, it destroyed the livelihoods of many families. Victims couldn’t return to their villages. Perpetrators who have been in prison didn’t have a place to go, so officials created six Reconciliation Villages.
Genocide survivors and perpetrators are given the chance to start a new life, Frederic Kazigwemo says. Currently there are 60 families living in Mbyo. The nonprofit organisation “Prison Fellowship Rwanda” supports the villagers. “We started with 15 houses to see if we can live together,” Kazigwemo explains. “It worked.”
Jacqueline Mukamana stays with her four children in the village. In 1994, a group of men destroyed her village and killed all of her 12 family members. She survived only because she had been working on the fields outside the village when the men came.
In the Reconciliation Village, Mukamana works with other women to create small pieces of art which they sell at the market. There is a dancing chorus of survivors and offenders, and a cooperative. “We save the returns from selling vegetables on a common bank account,” Mbyo’s mayor Frederic Kazigwemo says. “If a family is in difficulties we can give support with money of the community.”
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