In 2005 the United Nations Department of Public Information established "Lessons from Rwanda: The United Nations and the Prevention of Genocide" information and educational outreach program, and has been commemorating Rwanda's genocide on April 7 ever since. This year's commemoration will be held at the United Nations' COSOC Chamber, NL Building, UN Headquarters, New York from 5:00 - 6:00 PM.
"Today, we honour the memory of more than 800,000 people murdered in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. "Our thoughts are also with the survivors, left to rebuild shattered communities and an entire nation. On this day of remembrance, let us pay special tribute to the people and Government of Rwanda for the resilience and dignity they have shown in working towards national recovery and managing the trauma of this atrocious episode of history. I encourage them to continue promoting the inclusive spirit and dialogue necessary for healing, reconciliation and reconstruction."
Healing is a word with dual meaning in Rwanda. The emotional scars of genocide coupled with the spread of communicable diseases such as HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, still haunt the nation. Partners in Health (PIH) and its sister organization in Rwanda, Inshuti Mu Buzim (IMB), have worked diligently since 2005 to build and rebuild clinics and community centers to treat patients in areas of rural Rwanda. According to PIH there is only one doctor for every 30,000 people in Rwanda. This lack of qualified physicians makes the healthcare situation in remote areas even more dire.
Some good news: According to their website, by the end of fiscal year 2011, PIH/IMB is on schedule to support 40 health facilities in our three target districts, with over 1,280 clinical and support staff, and work with a network of 6,175 community health workers.
On this day, we are proud to honor the tireless work of Rose Mapendo. Following the genocide in Rwanda, a new conflict erupted across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo, entangling seven nations in what has been described as "Africa's first World War." Beginning in 1998, this deadly civil war claimed the lives of 5.4 million people, including Ms. Mapendo's husband. After spending time in a death camp with 9 of her 10 children, she and her family were located to Phoenix, Arizona. Since then, Ms. Mapendo has been a tireless advocate for refugees living in the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees named Mapendo "The Humanitarian of the Year in 2009."
The Green Family Foundation sponsored the Women's International Film & Arts Festival's screening of the award winning documentary, "Pushing the Elephant," by Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel. This heartbreaking film chronicles the story of Ms. Mapendo and her family's efforts to spread a message of forgiveness and educate the world about the atrocities of genocide and gender violence.
For more information about the UN 's "Lessons from Rwanda: The United Nations and the Prevention of Genocide" program, click here.
To read about Partners in Health's activities in Rwanda, check out their site.
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