The Kigali genocide memorial center has a few rooms set apart to highlight the young victims of the murderous rampage that swept through Rwanda. Large back-lit pictures of representative children smile and beckon you as you turn each corner. Plaques tell you their names and favorite foods (cake, noodles, rice), songs (Jingle Bells, Jesus Loves Me), and activities (riding a bike, playing with sisters).

Genocidechildroom2

Genocidecenterchildroom 

And how they were killed…

“Hacked by a machete while in her mother’s arms”
“Head smashed against a wall”
“Set alight with kerosene”
“Stabbed through the eyeballs”
“Bludgeoned by a club”
“Blown apart by a grenade”
“Thrown into a pit latrine and pummeled by rocks”
“Shot in the back of the head”
“Succumbed to extreme torture”
“Beheaded”

For me, it was the most heartbreaking ten minutes of my journey to Rwanda. Rows of cracked skulls and piles of bloodied clothing didn’t compare to the simple details of lives stolen from playful children, future leaders stolen from the country. Stolen by hate.

Ntaramamurdertools

(TOOLS OF MURDER. Machetes, clubs and other crude weapons, still inside the Ntarama Church where they were used to kill 5,000 people)