Meet Some Of Our Rwandan Partner-Teachers And The EIHR-Inspired Work They're Up To:Arcade Uwizeyimana
Arcade videochatting with a Holocaust survivor
Arcade Uwizeyimana is a secondary teacher in Rwanda's eastern province who we first met in July 2011 at the EIHR's first conference. Soon after, he joined five other teachers from the workshop to create the Rwandan Genocide Teachers Association, a network of teachers committed to genocide education. Arcade's been teaching about genocide prevention for two years now, and in September 2012 initiated and planned a conference about genocide studies at his school in which 100 students and teachers attended. "In my presentation I used many things that I received at the EIHR Conference, including pictures from CDs I received, testimonies from the book of Carl Wilkens, as well as the books I was given on the Holocaust. We are planning to have other conferences by the next academic year where we will invite some neighboring schools. I am excited and am looking forward to the future. They were thirsty for knowledge!"
Silas at the 2011 EIHR Conference
Silas Ndamage has been an educator for over 20 years, most recently in the Ngoma district of Rwanda's eastern province, where he teaches English and General Paper. After co-founding the Rwanda Genocide Teachers Association (RGTA) with five other teachers who had attended the EIHR's first conference in 2011, he started an anti-genocide club at his school, which now boasts of over 60 student members from secondary level 1 to 6. "Given that the future of any country lies in its younger members of the population, the students must be very well equipped and fully prepared to defend and protect Human Rights and this requires the help of an educator," Silas says.
He shares books about Rwanda and the Holocaust with the students in the club and helps them to understand the causes of genocide and the consequences of genocide ideology. The club has been active; they participate annually in commemoration activities, learn and educate others about genocide, and even support genocide widows in their community by repairing their homes. "Youth of today, we will put our force together to build our nation instead of destroying it," said one student member of the club, Gaju. The club hopes to one day visit memorial centers and neighboring schools, sharing their knowledge of genocide. "As an educator, I feel I have the responsibility in the defense and promotion of universally recognized rights," Silas says. "This calls for a ceaseless fight that requires each and everyone’s engagement to establish a true culture of human rights and orderliness in Rwanda."
Jean De Dieu Dusingize
Jean de Dieu Dusingize, pictured right
"Real learning happens outside the classroom," says Jean de Dieu Dusingize, a secondary school principal in Ngoma district in Rwanda's eastern province and a founding member of the Rwandan Genocide Teachers Association (RGTA). "It helps in acquiring new experiences while breaking from routine for both teachers and learners."
This is why he arranged for three teachers and nearly thirty students to take a trip to Kigali in order to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum and the Presidential Palace Museum. EIHR was happy to contribute to making the trip possible. At the memorial, students listened to museum educators present about Rwandan history as well as the stages, causes, and consequences of genocide. The students were so curious, and had so many questions, that Jean de Dieu had to cut them off so that they could make the bus home!
The Reaction Of His Students:
Jean de Dieu's students at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre
The second stop was at the Presidential Palace Museum, the house of former president Juvenal Habyarimana, the president whose plane was shot down by unknown assailants on April 6, 1994, igniting the start of the genocide. Oddly enough, the plane crashed through the compound of the house and came to a halt in the yard, while Habyarimana's children swam in the pool. The remains of the plane remain at the museum for viewing. Today, the house has been converted into a museum of Rwandan history. The students recommended that other classrooms at their school should have the chance to visit the two museum.
"Through this trip, students learnt from our history and I am sure that they now visualize the future," Jean de Dieu says. "They know that they do not have to be president or a hero to prevent violence. At their age, they must take their responsibilities to prevent genocide and speak out for those with no voice."