My family lived in Gikondo. I was 20 years old and a student in vacancy 3. I was with my mom and dad on a Wednesday night when we heard that the President’s jet plane had been shot down. We then heard a lot of shooting around the town of Kigali and it was said that nobody should go outside. My sister jumped over the wall at my house and disappeared. My brother also disappeared. We assumed he was killed.

I remained with my mom and we decided to go to the Red Cross building assuming that would be safe. When we reached there they refused to let us in so we stayed outside up to Thursday morning of 8 April. That morning we saw the President’s Protection Unit with a group of thugs and a soldier. My mother and I were in a group that were captured by the Interahamwe. They pushed us together and told us to lie down on the ground. My mother told me that because she was the oldest in the family she wanted to die before me and she insisted in getting on top of me. There was much shooting and grenades were thrown into the crowd. My mom was killed and her intestines were out and her head was destroyed with her brains exposed When the shooting stopped there was blood everywhere and I was underneath the bodies of some of the dead people. I waited for a long time before I crawled out from under the pile of bodies. It was dark when I heard somebody come close. “Are you still alive?” I said yes, but my mom is dead. “Come now, we must go.” It was Pastor Bizinmugu* and his wife. ( * The name is the same as the former President of Rwanda but he is a different person) I was confused;  I said how are we going to leave my mom’s body and she said that we must leave because they are all dead So I went with some others to the home of a Hutu family. It turned out that the family was related to the former Hutu President. I could still go to see mother’s body every morning until the time came when the bodies were burned. I prepared some bedsheets to cover her body after that. It was on the 15th that I learned that if any Hutu’s tried to hide Tutsis they were supposed to be killed as well. I was afraid to stay in that house and decided to run away. When I ran past the gate in front of their house I saw a truck that was taking some Congolese people back to the Congo. I snuck on to the truck. It was going to a place called Kacyiru.

At a roadblock some Interahamwe told everyone to get out of the truck. One of the men knew me because I had previously studied with his sister.Other Interahamwe said, why are you talking to that Tutsi girl?  He lied to them and said that I had a Tutsi mother but a Hutu father. So they said I didn’t have to be killed. The brother of my girlfriend warned about another roadblock that was further ahead of us. Someone said that if I were to walk alone I would be killed there. So the man who knew who I was took me to a safe place.

Before many days, the RPF took over in Kigali. I got news that my sister was alive and in Goma. We were reunited.

Comments on gacaca and the future: Valentine stated, “one good thing about gacaca is that innocent people are being released.” In recent years she was married, as shown in this wedding photo.

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