Day Seven….. Back from the Grave

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A knock came to the door late at night. ‘Who is there?’ asked one of the sisters? ‘Jeanne’, came the reply. There was a sense of shock and confusion because Jeanne was killed only yesterday along with five other girls. The soldiers came and they let the militia beat the girls to death with rocks. This happened on May the 18th 1994 a month after the genocide had started. The remains were placed in a shallow grave the day after they were killed.

The sister who opened the door thought she was dreaming; Jeanne was dead as far as everyone was concerned. What’s more she had been buried. Obviously the wounds had left her heavily concussed. Her hair was matted with clay and she collapsed as soon as she entered the room. More than likely she was buried on top of the others. Maybe the rain had washed away the soil or maybe the convent dog who had been behaving mysteriously had scrapped away at the soil freeing Jeanne from the weight of inevitable death.

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Her head was gashed and her left arm was badly damaged from the beatings. She couldn’t be brought to the hospital because every day the soldiers and the militia visited to the hospital to ‘finish off’ those who were still alive. The sisters brought Jeanne to a safe place. They cleaned her wounds with sterilised water, which was all they had available to them.

Jeanne and the sisters meet every year on the anniversary of the day she climbed or crawled from the grave. She leads the prayer and her invocation every year and indeed every day of her life is ‘Wherever you go, you are with God’. She now teaches in a University in Rwanda.

 

 

Survival is not about coping it is about living life to the full. When life is taken away from you; when you see nothing only darkness, then your basic humanity and whatever divine spark you have within you turns you to the light. In the western world we juggle dualisms; darkness and light, life and death, good and evil. When you find yourself in the heart of darkness, in the jaws of death and in the cradle of evil you are left with only one option. Jeanne and many others like her live with that option. They now live in light, life and goodness. As one of the sisters said, surviving the genocide leaves us with a duty to place goodness on the throne for all to see.

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