Thoughts after Watching Rwanda Genocide Documentary

I’ve never seen anything so terrible.

For those of you who don’t know what the Rwanda Genocide is, what happened was a group of Rwandans (the Hutus) starting massacring the other group (the Tutsis). Almost a million Tutsis were killed before the killing was finally called to an end.

I couldn’t believe the evil in humans. Never before have I ever seen something so terrible in a person. I didn’t cry when I saw the dead bodies surprisingly. That’s not what got me.

What got me is this girl who was my age at the time. Her name was Valentina. She hid in a church because her family believed that no one would kill in a church. But unfortunately, she saw with her own eyes her family getting slaughtered by people of her own country. After that, she hid in a closet for a few days without escaping. When we saw footage of her being taken care of, her fingers were amputated and black. Her face was down to the bones. But the worst part was the look in her eyes. There was so much pain, so much agony, so much suffering. That’s when I lost it.

In addition to that, while we were watching the documentary, there were people talking and laughing and getting up to go to the bathroom. It appalled me. I couldn’t understand that on the other side of the world only 23 years ago, people were being massacred with machetes, and people don’t have enough respect to stay serious while watching a video on it.

I was in a bad mood after that. For an hour or two, I lost faith in humanity. I believed we were all corrupt, all bad. But after my momentary loss of hope, I realized one thing. People cared enough to make a movie, Hotel Rwanda. One man, Carl Wilkins, stayed back instead of escaping back to America. And above all of that, we learned in my geography class that Rwanda united as quickly as they separated. They have found peace in talking to one another and empathizing. 

So let this be a reminder: even when the world is literally ending, when people are hurting each other in the worst way possible, and there’s nothing left to hold on to, it gets better. Valentina survived. Rwandans have achieved peace. It always gets better, it really does. And even if it gets worse, it has to get better eventually right? So just keep telling yourself that tomorrow it’ll be better, and one day it’ll be true.

And another reminder: I’ve learned to count my blessings very carefully, because I have more than I can imagine. There are so many things to be thankful for, so many things that others would die to have. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t, and let’s all just try leave the world a better place than when we found it.

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