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‘We must learn from it and teach others’

As Holocaust Memorial Day is marked this month, Jackie Macadam tells the story of a survivor of genocide in Rwanda.

“THE mountain near our village was a special holy site for Christians in Rwanda – I suppose a little like Iona in Scotland.”

Umutesi Stewart smiles broadly as she remembers her early life, in a mountain village in Rwanda.

“My grandmother was a retired teacher and my grandfather was a retired senior charge nurse. My mother was secretary at a tea making factory. So our grandparents were really the ones who raised us as my mum was working far from home.

Although we did not know our father, our grandparents took good care of us. I had many good friends.

“My grandparents were very involved in the Church and they were very kind and they helped many struggling families in the village. I grew up wanting to be like my grandfather who was a kind man and well respected in the village.”

“It seems very far from where I am now, in my home in Falkirk.”

Sadly, memories are almost all she has of her early childhood idyll. It was going to be brought to an end in the most damaging way possible, and her family broken and scattered.

Umutesi’s grandfather supported the family through his work as a nurse. She remembers him fondly.

“He was a very good nurse and many people would bring gifts to thank my grandfather for his help. Many children in the village couldn’t afford shoes so our grandparents told us to hide our shoes in our bags and not wear them when others could see us. They did not want other people to feel bad or to think that we had money.”

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About Life and Work

In this issue CELEBRATING YOUNG PEOPLE - The Church and the Year of Young People HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY - History and background A survivor of genocide in Rwanda tells her story HOMELESS SUNDAY A prayer BRIDGING GENERATIONS Intergenerational work and the Church