Twenty-five years ago Rwanda descended into mass murder on a scale that still shocks the world.
One of the survivors who lost her four children and husband to the Rwandan genocide is Anne-Marie Uwimana.
However, the most heartbreaking part was that she watched as her neighbour, Celestin Habinshuti, killed her children, including her oldest son, who was 11 years old at the time. Recounting the unforgettable tragic incident, Anne-Marie told BBC Africa.
But she has forgiven the man responsible.
Celestin Habinshuti, apologised to Anne-Marie Uwimana for killing her entire family during the Genocide.
Uwimana had four children killed in the Genocide. Habinshuti killed two of them before her eyes, she said.
He is also said to have aided the killing of Uwimana’s husband and other family members.
“As we slept with kids one night, this man (Habinshuti) came and demanded for my identity card. My kids were leaning against the wall and immediately he butchered two of them with a machete,” she narrated.
Uwimana said she escaped by sheer luck, fleeing with a baby nursing injuries.
Both the survivor and the perpetrator are residents of Kibirizi Sector.
Habinshuti killed many other people for which he was handed a 10-year jail term by Gacaca courts. He confessed to the crimes.
However, when he was released, relations were not good between him and Uwimana.
“We could not meet in public and whenever I saw her I would change direction. I was always in shame,” he said.
Like Habinshuti, Uwimana was not willing to meet Habinshuti for long as it drew bitter memories of the loss of her children and husband.
“As you see me here, I am lonely with no relatives,” she said. “However I have forgiven Habinshuti for the sake of healing,” Anne said while sharing her story at Kibirizi Catholic Church in Gisagara District, 2017.
“Now we live in harmony, share drinks and he supports me in various activities. Although he can do nothing to bring back my beloved family members he and other Interahamwe militia members killed, I am grateful he looks remorseful and kind now,” Uwimana said.