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LeTourneau Students to Remember Rwandan Genocide Saturday, April 11


LeTourneau University international students from Rwanda will lead "Urumuri Rutazima" -Flame of Eternal Peace-a commemorative walk and ceremony from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 11, beginning at Speer Chapel on the LETU campus, 2100 S. Mobberly Ave. in Longview. The purpose of the event is to remember the Rwandan genocide of 1994 that killed a million people in 100 days.

Professor Mathilde Mukantabana, ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States, is scheduled to attend the event Saturday in Longview from Washington D.C. Other speakers will include a Rwandan genocide survivor and the LETU Rwandan students. A candle-lighting ceremony, short video, play and poem will also be part of the event.

LETU international student Charity Mutesi is one of the event's organizers. She was only a toddler when her family fled their homeland, but says she still mourns for her lost family members and her country every April, the anniversary month of the start of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. April has now become a month when Rwandans across the globe pause to remember the atrocities and seek to heal their country through forgiveness and reconciliation.

The event at LETU mirrors a similar commemoration in Rwanda. Annually in Rwanda between April 7 and 14, thousands of Rwanda residents and government participate in an annual Walk to Remember-from their parliament building to their national stadium-as they focus on unity, reconciliation and healing, Mutesi said. From this experience, Rwandans find peace.

"Through the horror and through the darkness that we have been through, this is a moment to be together, a moment to not feel alone," Mutesi said.

Mutesi says she has invited Rwandans from Dallas and Houston, and hopes that the local community will come in support of the event at LETU, which she hopes will educate people here about the genocide in her country. T-shirts will be available at the event on Saturday. The public is invited. Participants are asked not to wear the color red, which Mutesi says symbolizes blood during this time of year.

"Whenever we ask somebody here about Rwanda, they barely know anything about the country," Mutesi said. "They have heard of the movie, 'Hotel Rwanda,' but they only know the movie." Mutesi said that it hurts her that many think the story was fiction. "We want people to know it was not fiction, and it was more than a movie. It was our lives."

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