Uwamahoro Grace was a young girl when the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi ravaged Rwanda. She is a Hutu who rescued a Tutsi baby, following a desperate plea from the baby’s mother who succumbed to machete-inflicted wounds shortly thereafter. Grace named her adopted baby Uwase Vanessa and raised her despite a very strong opposition from her family.
Grace’s family pushed her to abandon the baby. Rescuing and raising a Tutsi child had put the entire family at risk. She ignored her family’s persistent threats and kept Vanessa under her wing.
Raising a child at a tender age, with meagre resources and lack of support, wasn’t an easy feat. Nevertheless, she overcame all the challenges life threw her way.
Vanessa grew up and became a beautiful, intelligent girl. She heard rumors that Grace wasn’t her biological mother. When she approached Grace demanding explanations, the truth was revealed.
Ibuka’s President, Prof. Dusingizemungu Jean Pierre was quoted saying, "Rescuers command a special recognition in our society." They took a stand against divisionism and hatred. They risked their own lives saving others, an act considered betrayal by the perpetrators and the entire state-sponsored genocidal machinery.
Twenty-seven years ago, humanity flew out of the window but Grace and other rescuers defended the Rwandan cultural fabric of compassion. Her touching story is featured in a film titled Ubumuntu.
This year’s genocide remembrance period is coming to an end. As we reflect and renew our Never Again vows, we recognize and heroic acts of those who defended humanity amid the inconceivable atrocities.