A GROUP of pupils from Kilsyth Academy have returned from a life-changing trip to help genocide survivors in Africa get their lives back on track.
A delegation of 15 pupils and two teachers joined Pastor Mark Fleming, of Kilsyth Community Church, and Callum Henderson, from the Comfort Rwanda charity, in helping to build a training centre in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali.
The area is slowly recovering from the horrific mass murders which took place in 1994 when nearly one million people were killed in the space of 100 days.
Pastor Fleming said: “I think for the pupils the point was to see how the country has been able to recover – that number of people being murdered in that space of time is just unthinkable.
“One of the places we visited was the national monument to the genocide. That really opened up their eyes to what happened.
“I think also they learned how the country has been able to survive through forgiveness and letting the past go and moving on.”
The violence in 1994 was sparked when then president Juvenal Habyarimana was assassinated. The majority of the murders were committed by Hutus, loyal to Habyarimana’s political party, with most of the victims being of Tutsi ethnic background.
Pastor Fleming says one of the projects visited by the Kilsyth teenagers showed how the perpetrators are trying to make amends for their actions.
He added: “We visited a healing and reconciliation meeting where those who took part in the genocide come and ask for forgiveness.
“Through these projects those responsible have built houses for widows.
“It’s quite amazing, we visited one house that a man has been building for a widow - during the violence he had killed most of her family. The courage of the victims is incredible to see.”
While there, The New Times, Rwanda’s first daily newspaper, founded the year after the genocide, featured a story about the pupils’ work.