30 Years After Rwandan Genocide: Emmanuel’s Story of Hope


As the international community remembers 30 years since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Compassion staff member and genocide survivor Emmanuel is sharing his story of hope.

Starting on the 7th of April, 1994, over 1 million Tutsi, along with moderate Hutu and those who opposed the massacres, were killed – over a space of just 100 days. A staggering 95,000 children were orphaned.

At the time, Compassion made the courageous decision to remain in Rwanda, pausing their long-term child development programs to focus on rescuing and reunite children with extended family members.

Emmanuel, known as Emma, who now works as a partnership facilitator for Compassion Rwanda, was one of those orphaned children. He was just five years old when his parents were killed in a church massacre. He survived by hiding in the bush for weeks and was eventually rescued and taken to a camp for survivors.

An uncle took him and his siblings in to his home, along almot 40 other orphaned children. From there he was enrolled into a Compassion program.

“My uncle did his best, but it was a struggle to find basic needs such as food, school supplies, clothing,” says Emma. By that time, Compassion opened [their] centre, and by God’s grace I was registered.”

At the Compassion centre, Emma began a journey of healing and transformation—finding comfort, love and a safe place to be a child again.

“After losing your dad and losing your mom, it’s hard to find someone to tell you that they love you, are praying for you, and taking care of you,” he said. “That was the time I needed someone to pray with me. That was the time that I needed someone to stand with me to affirm me.”

With the help of Compassion, Emma began planning and setting goals for his future. And, incredibly, he learned to forgive those who had killed his parents.

“Reconciling with God helped me to reconcile with other people, including those who killed my family and other relatives. Of course, forgiveness didn’t come at once. It was a process. But that process started when I was connected to Christ,” Emma said.

Through food, mentoring and school supplies he received through Compassion, Emma began to excel at school. The centre funded his education, including university fees for his degree in computer science.

In his work today with Compassion Rwanda, Emma works to ensure children are known, loved, and protected. He is also the co-founder of the Compassion Alumni ministry organisation which has over 10,000 active members.

Above: Emmanuel with children supported by Compassion.

“When I see what Compassion did, I moved from hopelessness, to hope, and being a hope giver. Jesus changed me to change others. He transformed me to transform others.”

CEO of Compassion Australia, Clare Steele said, “I am deeply moved by Emmanuel’s story and the profound impact of Compassion’s work in Rwanda.”

“Emmanuel’s journey is a testament to the power of compassion and generosity to bring lasting hope and transformation even in the worst circumstances. A generation of young people like him have emerged as leaders in Rwanda—a nation that serves as inspiration to others in overcoming unimaginable loss and adversity.”

Visit the Compassion website to learn more about their work in Rwanda.

Article supplied with thanks to Christian Media & Arts Australia.

Feature image: Emmanuel from Compassion Rwanda (supplied)

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