The Nyundo site is located in Western Province. Click on the image for a slideshow of photographs. All photographs © 2002-2008 Jens Meierhenrich.

Three long, deep scars on her right forearm bear silent witness to the ordeal that Béatrice (not her real name) suffered in the spring of 1994, in this small northern locality near the lakeside town of Gisenyi.

Tutsi endured harassment as early as 1990 in Nyundo; but when killings began on April 7, 1994 at 2 pm, the eruption of the violence caught everyone unaware, including priests gathered for a conference at the Nyundo cathedral. Two of Béatrice’s three children were killed, and to save her remaining child she fled first to the cathedral, then to everywhere and nowhere.

“After the archbishop was taken away for interrogation by the Interahamwe [militia], we moved around in groups of three or four, only at night,” she says, haltingly. “I am not sure where we actually went. We avoided roadblocks. It is hard to say how far we travelled. And sometimes it was clear that we had just gone in circles.”

Nyundo’s genocide memorial—its crypts, mass graves, flowers, and grounds lovingly tended by Béatrice—contains the bodies of about 800 people. In former times this land was a garden to feed students at a school on one side and a seminary on the other. In the wake of the genocide both centers of education needed two years to reopen.

These days, children run about on the soccer field across the dirt road from the memorial, and Béatrice can hear their shouts and playful laughter while she works. She takes care of the site because, in her words, “all my people are here.”

Copyright © 2010 Jens Meierhenrich. All rights reserved.