You are warmly invited on Friday June 25, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. to The South Orange Vailsburg United Methodist Church, for a TRULY INSPIRATIONAL evening of Storytelling in honor of all the Rwanda Genocide Survivors in their own VOICE!

On the evening of  June 25 a special community gathering was held at a Haitian church in New Jersey featuring a presentation and testimony from Rwandan genocide survivor, Eugenie Mukeshimana.

There is great importance for Eugenie and other survivors to share what they’ve experienced through storytelling, as this is the primary means of documenting history in the villages of Rwanda.  Eugenie’s voice is a story of survival but she also speaks on behalf of nearly 1 million Tutsis who were killed by their Hutu neighbors during one of the darkest chapters in contemporary human history-the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

Eugenie and her daughter

Eugenie and her daughter

Eugenie’s presentation began with her introduction to the documentary Valentina’s Nightmare, filmed in 1997 by BCC journalist Fergal Keane.  The film displayed devastating images of the aftermath of the genocide while tracing Valentina’s experiences and reflections after finally being discovered by UN troops, near death, with the fingers severed off her right hand by a machete.

After screening the graphic film, Eugenie shared the trying chain of events leading to her own survival, each experience illustrating the fact that her presence today is nothing short of a miracle.

Valentina Iribagiza

In her quest to escape the genocide she did what ever was required to survive — from being hidden under a neighbor’s bed while she was eight months pregnant, to cooking dinner for a soldier who has been ordered to kill her.  Eugenie and thousands of others had to act like the cockroaches that they were cruelly referred to as by their killers – hiding constantly only to come out at night to quietly relocate.

When Eugenie tells of the events that led to her survival she speaks plainly and simply, she is aware there is no reason to sensationalise her experience nor does she try to paint a picture of what happened to the millions of Tutsis who did not survive.  The story she shares is of what she alone had to do to guarantee her and her unborn daughter’s survival, a story which continues with her present life in New Jersey.