International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

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International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

Rwandan women speak.

Two years after the slaughter of Tutsis and the exile of a million of Hutu refugees, Rwanda is slowly awaking from this nightmare. From now on, the watchword is “rebuilding”. From the government policy to the farmers, the whole country is looking for a rebirth.

Though they were victims of the conflict, the Rwandan women, the Tutsis, are making up for the disintegration of the Rwandan family fabric by helping each other.

She is twelve years old. Nyirahabimana Josephin is the only survivor of the slaughter: she has lost all her family. Still, her profile tells what she has been through. Some say that it is a miracle she is still alive. She now lives with Mukankara Anastasy and her young daughter. Mukankara Anastasy is 32 years old. She still bears the scars left by the enemies’ machete. She and her daughter were left for dead among dozens of lifeless bodies. The three of them are now trying to get a semblance of a normal family life, a way to relieve the feeling of absence and loneliness.

Text written by Rachel Deghati.

About the author

A philanthropist, idealist, humanist, Reza’s career began with studies in Architecture. He has gone on to become a renowned photojournalist who, for the last three decades, has worked all over the world, notably for National Geographic. His assignments have taken him to over a hundred countries as a witness to humanity’s conflicts and catastrophes. His work is featured in the international media (National Geographic, Time Magazine, Stern, Newsweek, El País, Paris Match, Geo…), as well as a series of books, exhibitions and documentaries made for the National Geographic Channel.

Along with his work as a photographer, since 1983 Reza has been a volunteer committed to the training of youths and women from conflict-ridden societies in the language of images, to help them strive for a better world. In 2001, he founded Ainaworld in Afghanistan, a new generation NGO which trains populations in information and communications through the development of educational tools and adapted media. While pursuing his reportages for international media outlets, Reza has continued to conduct workshops on the language of images in a variety of formats (onsite and online) through his association Reza Visual Academy. He works with refugees, urban youths in Europe and others from disadvantaged backgrounds.

After his work, Mémoires d’Exil (“Memories of Exile”) shown at the Louvre Carrousel in 1998, he has shared his humanitarian vision through a series of monumental installations: Crossing Destinies, shown on the grilles of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, One World, One Tribe in Washington DC, and the Parc de la Villette in Paris, War + Peace at the Caen Memorial and on the banks of the Garonne in Toulouse, Hope in Doha (Qatar), Windows of the Soul in Corsica, Soul of Coffee, 250 photographic exhibitions throughout the world, including major installations on the banks of the Seine, or at Kew Gardens in London, Land of Tolerance at the UN Headquarters in New York, the European Parliament in Brussels, as well as UNESCO in Paris. In 2014, Azerbaijan: the Elegance of Fire, presented at the Petit Palais revealed a little-known people with an ancestral culture, turned towards modernity. Finally, the giant panorama A Dream of Humanity was featured along the banks of the Seine during the summer of 2015, showing portraits of refugees around the world taken by Reza and photographs taken by refugee children in Iraqi Kurdistan who were trained as “camp reporters” at the workshops organized by Reza Visual Academy.

Author of twenty-nine books, and a recipient of many awards over the course of his career, Reza was Fellow of the National Geographic Society (2006-2012), and he is Explorer since 2013. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Ashoka Foundation. Reza’s work has been recognized by World Press Photo; he has also received the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, the Lucy Award, an honorary medal from the University of Missouri and the honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from the American University of Paris. France has also appointed him a Chevalier of the National Order of Merit.