conflict and peace


Rwanda is a tiny country - about a third the size of Tasmania. In 1994 nearly one million people were killed over 100 days of planned genocide.

The process of recovery and re-building is complex. Rwandans have taken on the challenge with great intelligence and are developing uniquely African solutions. They are comprehensively and creatively re-imagining their society and their country. Stable societies rarely have that opportunity - Rwanda is worth looking at.

Most of the images here are screen grabs from video. 

“Women stepped out and rolled up their sleeves when men were destroyed emotionally and psychologically.” PAUL KAGAME
During the genocide, thousands of people crowded into churches, hoping the killers would be reluctant to carry out massacres within a 'house of God'. However, this was not the case. Genocide memorial detail, Ntarama, southern Rwanda.
Arrow embedded in a skull. Over 5,000 people were killed in Ntarama church in April 1994.  More info and video
Children were targeted. Detail from the children's section of the Gisozi genocide memorial, Kigali, Rwanda.
I spent several hours filming at genocide sites. These weren't my family's bones, so I was basically a tourist with a camera, and that felt very strange. For many Rwandans, the pain of their history is personal and still active. I was walking on the warm ashes of someone else's life.
After the genocide, Annet started working with the tens of thousands of orphans and unaccompanied children scattered across the country, re-uniting them with parents or finding places for them in their communities.
Across Rwanda, thousands of community courts - gacaca - dealt with local genocide crimes.
Participants in a gacaca court near Gakenke, north-western Rwanda.
Karinda and Saverina. In 1994, Karinda was about thirteen years old when he took part in killing Saverina's children. Today, they are friends and he helps with her vegetable garden. 
In the 21st century, despite widespread poverty, Rwanda is a country on the move. Brickies labourers, Ruhengeri. Northern province.
Building a fence in the rain. Near Bisesero, western Rwanda.
Growing pineapples. A community project with two aims: to create a little income and to encourage co-operation between people who have plenty of reasons not to get on with each other.
Intore dancers. Years of discrimination and de-humanisation eroded Rwanda's culture. But today the younger generation is proud of their country. Globalisation is a challenge though: "Everyone wants to learn salsa or hip-hop. They say, "Ah, traditional dance is so old-fashioned. No one wants it!" 
Children and teenagers spend many hours each week helping around the home and small subsistence farm.
Over 50% of Rwanda's population is under 18. Participation in education is remarkably high.
Teacher training, Ntenyo, southern Rwanda.
Primary school classroom in Kigali, Rwanda's capital
Hilltop refugee camp. Byumba, northern Rwanda. Even though many Rwandans live on less than $1.50/day, the country is finding creative ways to manage the influx of refugees from DR Congo and Burundi. As of mid 2015, they are hosting well over 100,000 recent arrivals. With the help of Stanford University and Ennead Architects from New York, camps are designed to encourage integration between the refugees and the local community by providing common spaces, shared education and health facilities, and better water, health and sanitation for the whole community. The Japanese government is working with the UNHCR to deliver an early childhood education program for refugee children.
As a boy, Patrick lost his family in the genocide. "We don't plan the country we are born in. For me it was Rwanda, so my life has been different to yours. Yes we had a genocide, but we survived. And now I think we are on top of the mountain because I can see the future."
For a more detailed look at Rwanda's recovery from genocide:
For educational resources for teachers:

If you'd like information about practical ways you can help Rwanda's re-building, you can email me:

You may also like

filming in Rwanda
best practice design
writing and design
Back to Top