The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek team paid a special visit to Hochland High School, where a group of senior, history students in the eleventh grade, learnt more about this internationally observed day.
By reflecting on the Rwanda Genocide, students are guided through the history of the genocide, to build awareness and also understanding, and most importantly, for such events to be a learning lesson that will help prevent similar acts in the future. The educational outreach also raises awareness of the lasting impact of genocide on the survivors, particularly widows, orphans and victims of sexual violence, and the challenges that they still face to this day.
The UNIC team received a warm welcome from the Head of Department at the school. The presentation consisted of videos and a power point presentation. The presentation highlighted the details and timeline in the run up to the Rwanda Genocide. The attentive Hochland students were engaged from the start and quietly listened as they learned how the genocide took place. The statistics were disheartening, 800 000 Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsi, were massacred by Hutu militia and government forces over a period of just 100 days.
At the end of the presentation, the team asked the students to join in lighting candles and taking a moment of silence, in remembrance of the Rwandan Genocide survivors and those who perished during this time. After the moment of silence, learners stood up to read the messages on what some of the prominent leaders had to say about the Rwanda genocide. The team then allowed the learners some time to read through the exhibition posters and ask questions and give their personal opinions and reflections.They were also given some time to write messages and share their thoughts on the 1994 Genocide.
The team was inundated at the end with questions, signaling their interest to learn and understand more. UNIC team spent a long time answering all the questions and ensuring that the students comprehended the role of the youth and future generations to prevent genocide. The session with the youth reminded the UNIC team on the importance of this educational programme, as Ban Ki moon said, “History has repeatedly demonstrated that no specific part of the world is immune.” He further noted that “the history of Rwanda teaches us an essential lesson. While the capacity for the deepest evil resides in all societies, so too do the qualities of understanding, generosity and reconciliation. Let us nurture these hallmarks of our common humanity to help build a life of dignity and security for all.”