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Forgiveness in Rwanda after the genocide

"Without women peace would not be possible"


Film-maker Laura Waters Hinson © As we forgive
It is remarkable scenes such as these that Laura Waters Hinson shows in her film about Rwanda after the genocide. "If these people can forgive such crimes, then we can also forgive other, unimportant things," she says.

Actress Mia Farrow lent her narrator's voice to the documentary As We Forgive. "She came on board straightaway when she found out that it was about Rwanda after the genocide," Hinson says.

The film portrays everyday life in Rwanda, as it struggles to come to terms with its history of genocide, and accompanies two women on the path to making their peace with the men who murdered their families. One of the women is Rosaria. The other is Chantale.

Genocide: "Whether I forgive or not makes no difference"
Reconciliation in Rwanda after the biggest genocide since WW II © As we forgive

Chantale lives about 30 miles from Rosaria's village. The man who killed her father had been a good friend of his. They had enjoyed a beer together from time to time, celebrated the birth of their children together.

After the genocide, when John first asked for her forgiveness, Chantale couldn’t bring herself to give it to him. Since her father's murder, she has been suffering from severe anxiety attacks and depression. "Whether I forgive him or not makes no difference to me," she says.

"Old man, do you know what you have done to me?” she asks John when she meets him again. He keeps repeating his request time and time again: "Please, I beg of you: forgive me."

During one such meeting he takes her hand – and she smiles. "I am glad to see him,” she says. “I am not afraid any more." Soon after this encounter she makes her peace with him. 

Women are the glue that holds society together
Like Rosaria and Chantale, hundreds of thousands of others are trying to put the gruesome events of their country’s past behind them: in many of these cases, perpetrators repent, victims forgive and their joint lives begin anew. It is mainly women who need to come to terms with the murder of their children, husbands and fathers, as well as the rape and abuse so many of them suffered themselves. "Women are the glue that holds society together, not only in Rwanda,” says Hinson. “Without them peace would not be possible."

Those who wish to support Laura Waters Hinson's work can arrange a screening of the film or make a donation to her aid organization in Rwanda. 

Click here for more information on the film and to get involved: As We Forgive


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