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In the ultimate act of forgiveness, many survivors of the genocide in Rwanda are now working — and even forming friendships — with the same people who tried to kill them 20 years ago.
Beginning on April 7, 1994, ethnic Hutus killed more than one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus during a heinous, 100-day wave of ethnic violence. Since then, the government has pushed to create a single Rwandan identity, and organizations have been created to bring survivors and perpetrators together. "Forgiveness is possible. It's common here," Josephine Munyeli, a genocide survivor and director of peace and reconciliation programs for World Vision, tells The Asssociated Press. "Guilt is heavy. When one realizes how heavy it is the first thing they do to recuperate themselves is apologize."
Emmanuel Ndayisaba killed, by his own account, at least 18 people during the genocide. It was at one of these reconciliation groups that he saw Alice Mukarurinda, a Tutsi woman whose hand he chopped off after killing her baby and a niece so many years ago. He begged for her forgiveness, and after thinking it over and talking with her husband, Mukarurinda granted it. "We had attended workshops and trainings and our hearts were kind of free, and I found it easy to forgive," she told the AP. "The Bible says you should forgive and you will also be forgiven." Now, they work side by side for a program that builds houses for genocide survivors; she is the treasurer, and he is the vice president.