My friend Bro. Léo + the Rwandan genocide

Sunday January 27th was Holocaust Memorial Day. when we not only remember the atrocities committed against the Jews and other groups during the 2nd World War, but also all genocides that have been carried out since then, including those in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia and Armenia.

This year we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. I will never forget the years I spent in Paris during my studies in the late '90s with a Rwandan De La Mennais Brother, Bro. Léodomir Barakagendana (see photo), a Hutu who, as Head of a secondary school near the Congolese border, had managed to save dozens of Tutsis by driving them across the border after having hidden them in his school. Léodomir had a nervous breakdown whilst in Paris and had to be taken to a psychiatric hospital for his own safety where he stayed for over a month. He was having auditory hallucinations and would wake in the middle of the night hearing the screams of those he'd witnessed being massacred by machete. Léo was a lovely guy. He never fully recovered from the trauma of what he had been through. He did, however, some years later, manage to cope with returning to Rwanda and rejoining our educational ministry with young people there. He subsequently died of an unrelated illness about 10 years ago. Our Brothers in Rwanda, both Africans and Canadians, have achieved remarkable results with their work for peace and reconciliation and I would love to one day take a group of young adults from England to work with primary school children there and to hear first hand from the Rwandan people their personal stories. The world has so much to learn from such former enemies as the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in Rwanda who have put their differences aside and learned to live and work together in peace and mutual respect.

See here for an introduction to Holocaust Memorial Day:


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