Alice and Immanuel feature in From Genocide to Generosity. They are the pair of smiling faces on the Home page of this website.
Early in 2014 they were visited by a reporter from the Australian newspaper, accompanied by the media person from World Vision of Australia. When Alice invited the visitors to her home, the journalist noticed a tea towel, a cloth a souvenir cloth hanging on the wall of Alice’s home. Who gave you that? he enquired. It was a gift of John Steward, said Alice. Who is John Steward? they asked. Alice explained a little and Josephine, who was escorting the group, added her own explanation. Josephine Munyeli was a member of my team; she now holds the equivalent of my old position in World Vision Rwanda.
When the journalist returned home I spoke with him and explained the background to the work of healing and forgiveness in Rwanda. I stressed that forgiveness is not exoneration, it is not pretending that terrible things did not happen, it is not allowing the perpetrator to go free, but it does set the wounded (in spirit) person free from the perpetrator’s ‘power’ over them. Alice and Immanuel are an example that forgiveness does not dissolve the consequences of wrong acts, nor remove the need for Justice; forgiveness is part of the journey, a choice for which every individual must take their own time. It always benefits the one who forgives, while it may have little impact on the one who offended. In this case Immanuel can smile because he asked for forgiveness from his victim and she chose to do that.
The journalist presented some of these thoughts in the weekend Australian in early April 2014 commemorating the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. You can see that on the Facebook page with the same title. The fuller, amazing story is in From Genocide to Generosity, where Alice and Immanuel are referred to by their Kinyarwanda names: Mukarurinda and Ndayisaba.