04/10/2014 05:16 EDT | Updated 06/10/2014 05:59 EDT

How I Remember Rwanda

Ten years ago at the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide I went to Rwanda with World Vision. I knew it would be a difficult trip, but I had no idea the impact that trip would have on me going forward. Now, as we near the 20th anniversary of the horrific Rwandan genocide, my heart is still broken by the meaningless killing. I am also in awe at the ability of some of the survivors to move forward and somehow find it in their hearts to forgive.

Approximately 800,000 Tutsi and Hutu sympathizers were left dead by the slaughter that lasted 100 days. On my trip, we met survivors and believe me -- everyone had a story, even 10 years later. I met people that hid in swamps, breathing through reeds for days on end so as not to be noticed. I met people who fled to surrounding counties and ended up at extremely difficult refuge camps. I met people seeking comfort in churches that were set on fire, people who had lost their entire family... but this story, that I want to share with you, is about a 10-year-old girl named Dina that I met, who wasn't even born yet when the genocide began.


Dina lost her father early on during the violence. Her mother could not have known that the family she thought would help her, would instead rape and brutalize her, passing on HIV/Aids. Dina's mother was unable to work after that and could not provide for her children. Miraculously they survived. Here is where World Vision comes in. World Vision helped provide basic shelter and nutrition. By the time I met them, all of the six children were in school. They had clean drinking water and a home with a cement floor, doors and screens on the windows. There was a small paper Canadian flag above the door given to them by Dave Toycen, the head of World Vision Canada who had been to see them prior to me. Even though it was only 3 small rooms and most humble by our standards, it was a home fit for a family. Dina even had a pet dog.

Dina and I bonded instantly and I have sponsored her since then. I love to see her updated photos in the progress reports. I have watched her grow into a fine young lady. When we write letters she tells me that she will never forget me and the help that World Vision gave her and her family.


It's been 20 years since the genocide. I'm still dumbfounded that this could happen. I am thankful for humanitarian organizations and the kindness and support they have shown to help cradle an entire country back to stability.