Solange

P1010919
Solange lost her father and two brothers to the genocide and she took 
over her dad’s job, rebuilding his house and educating her younger 
siblings.

“For 12 years, since 1994, I wasn’t enjoying life and this was 
stealing my joy, destroying the best in me and, finally, killing me. 
I realized I was the one who had the problem; what to do?  I made a 
decision to act on what I call ‘Pacific Revenge’.  Instead of blame, have compassion.  The genocidaires also need help to acknowledge evil and depart from it.  Between 1994 and 2001 I was bitter and then I decided to live my dad’s life because, though outwardly I wanted to live a 
good life, inwardly this was not the case.  If you want to make a difference you have to go deep.  I am going to preach love, I’ve made this my banner.  Hatred consumes itself and everyone. 
If you want to kill something, starve it.  We Rwandans need to starve hatred. 
You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Solange cites other Rwandan examples of what she calls Pacific Revenge:  “There are people trained – mental health workers – who go out to communities to help those struggling.  Genocidaires who confess serve half their prison term but they must do community service. 
Rwanda is clean because this is a community service and there are smoother roads now because this too is a community service.  I think it’s usually 1/2 day per week.  Also there is an ongoing – possibly once a week during the evening – community dialogue between the victims and perpetrators.  Just as it is for me, so for all Rwandans, this Pacific Revenge must continue at least through the affected generations.  It has to be worked on.”

“An effort of will, is what is expected of Rwandans, by themselves and their government, by Paul Kagame [Rwanda’s president].  After 19 years, don’t forget but don’t use the genocide as an excuse not to get up and work.”   So Solange, after 12 years of bitterness, of self-pity decided, with God’s help, to work positively for reconciliation in her beautiful country.  It appears to me that at least two times in Solange’s life she has made this effort of will; what can ever really be accomplished without this?

With no background in agriculture and no English, she embarked on an MSc / PhD in Kansas during a midwest winter and took on her missing father’s job to bring up her siblings and rebuild her county.  She went to the US on a Fulbright scholarship and first studied English in 
California for 8 months.  Although she was not yet adequately prepared for graduate studies,  Solange continued her education in freezing Kansas where the huge American steers on feedlots were definitely not ‘pets’.  She was lost at sea in this landscape, one at odds with her intimate, green homeland.  She would have preferred to study medicine but had not the financial where with all for the 6 year commitment.  Not without anguish, she made the decision to like her choice of following her scholarship to its conclusion and to live constructively with it.  She is now Dean of Agriculture and has learned to enjoy her job.

Solange is one of the promoters of the series of genocide related public lectures here at the university that are taking place each afternoon during this week of genocide remembrance.

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8 Responses to Solange

  1. Susan says:

    Thank you, Tony. Solange is an amazing person. Hopefully, you can publish her comments along with great photo at some later date,in some form or another. She is hugely inspirational. CUSO should be very proud of you for reaching out to people like you do.

  2. wadawson says:

    Wish it were true Susan, about CUSO…but as I was rereading this entry I was thinking how little I know what the World Food Programme thinks of my efforts. I asked Dominique for a reference but it has not been forthcoming. I will write CUSO – Ottawa to see.
    I have just booked a flight home and will go to the CUSO -‘Reintegration’ session mid July. I am hoping to see Diana in Florida first; I haven’t seen her since Sally died.
    I thought of you today as I cycled passed poppies growing on the roadside today, here in France. This is a highlight and I wondered how your trip went and what your favourite times.

    Boy, why do I find it so important, your contact… because of McTavish Street…I just decided to print this entry and you are right there. This perhaps one of my most important…

    Tony

  3. Robert and Barb Quaedvlieg says:

    Tony you have been truly amazing in your compassion and stepping out to leave Keremeos and go to a foreign land. What you are doing is truly inspirational. You have gifts to share wherever God calls you and you never said ‘No’ to the one who inspired you to follow your heart.
    We have missed you and wonder if you will come back to this area or will you continue this great outreach to people who need love and encouragement. We”ll leave that thought with you.
    We have a cold, cold spring. March had a few nice days but April was more of the March weather from the past. Day before yesterday we had large wet snowflakes and the mountains were white. Yesterday May 1 and today May 2 gives us hope that the weather is about to warm up.
    We are praying the river behaves and that no one will suffer flooding when the snows begin to melt.
    So Tony all the best and it has been great following you on your journey.
    Love and hugs
    Robert and Barb Q – Keremeos

    • wadawson says:

      Barbara, Robert, Cawston-Keremeos is my home. I’m not homesick but I do look forward to returning, but I’m not certain just when. I booked a flight today from Amsterdam to Orlando at the end of June. I want to see my sister Diana. We have not been together since our sister Sally died, about 18 years ago. Too long. After this, I want to attend a CUSO ‘reintegration’ session in Ottawa, mid July.

      Thank you for your support and comments, especially coming from you Barb and from Robert.

      I am presently in France though not speaking much French as shopping and daily pleasantries do not add up to learning and improving… we are cycling past orchards and vineyards with pastry in our mouths! Fresh loaves of crusty bread and all sorts of cheeses too! The cherries are past full bloom and the vineyards are leafing out.

      I seem to have sold my orchard, to my amazement. Glad of it, after 30 years. No longer have to worry about weeds, mice and the clear wing moth about the tree trunks.

      So appreciate you following this journey.

      Look forward to seeing you both again,

      Tony

  4. Isack says:

    How are Tony! I completed my cours jun 27! The i am going to ngorongoro to aplay a job

  5. Isack says:

    Thank you for you support

  6. Isack says:

    Palvish777@yahoo.com! This email is priceple of Arusha school

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