In 2009, Aegis Trust launched Peace Building Education at the Kigali Genocide Memorial (KGM). The program focuses on critical thinking in times of division and crisis. The peace building model applied here is designed to use education to break the chain of hatred and cultivate love.
26 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, there is a faction of ill-intentioned people still harboring the genocide ideology and denialism. There is a deliberate attempt by some culprits and their godfathers to erase their transgressions from history books.
The war against this toxic ideology and the apparent distortion of history is waged through education. The KGM is a resourceful learning center containing digital material and physical repository compiled to defend the truth and help to prevent possible similar atrocities in the region and elsewhere.
There are video testimonies of survivors and rescuers as well as confessions of perpetrators and Gacaca court proceedings which unmasked a great deal of skeletons. The facility’s Visual History Archive contains more than 55,000 testimonies of survivors and witnesses.
KGM, which is the final resting place of more than 250,000 victims, runs workshops for school children and a community outreach program designed to create agents of change. It brings together children from families of both survivors and perpetrators and charters a unified goal and common future aspirations.
Yesterday, I mentioned that young people had nothing to do with what happened in 1994 but they are affected by that dark chapter of our history in one way or another. There is an uncomfortable interaction between children whose parents are survivors and those whose parents are perpetrators. Innocent children of perpetrators are dealing with the nagging complex and those whose biological fathers raped their mothers during the genocide are struggling to come to terms with their situations.
"What kind of message do we give them? This is the rationale behind our peace building education." Says Freddy Mutanguha, AEGIS Country Director. Some things are not taught at school and sensitive discussions are not taking place at home.
Through the program, carefully selected lessons are used to help children develop the skill of critical thinking. According to Morley Hanson, who serves as an education advisor for the program, developing critical thinking and empathy from within is key.