Kathleen del Marina
"Rwanda was a failure on so many levels. It started as a failure of the European colonists who exploited trivial differences for the sake of a divide-and-rule strategy. It was the failure of Africa to get beyond its ethnic divisions and form true coalition governments. It was a failure of Western democracies to step in and avert the catastrophe when abundant evidence was available. It was a failure of the United States for not calling a genocide by its right name. It was the failure of the United Nations to live up to its commitments as a peacemaking body. All of these come down to a failure of words. And this is what I want to tell you: Words are the most effective weapons of death in a man's arsenal. But they can also be powerful tools of life. They may be the only ones."
Paul Rusesabagina, An Ordinary Man
"To solve the human equation, we need to add love, subtract hate, multiply good, and divide between truth and error."
Being a teenager is hard enough without big events in your family happening. You have to go through all the hormones and changes in your mind. You go to a new school, deal with more stress, and everything is confusing. No one seems to understand you and you always feel alone. But when I turned twelve, my whole life changed. Suddenly my family wad torn apart and flung across the world. My life was different and totally unfamiliar. In my mind, this was the lowest place in my life. Still, as usual when teenagers think the worst has happened, I was wrong. But as it turned out, the past six years have taught me things I never could have imagined. Things about the world, family, love, connection, and even myself.
Just after my twelfth birthday, my father got a job in Rwanda. Our family needed the money this would provide, and my father would be helping out the Tutsis in the country. He took it, ignoring people's words that it wouldn't be safe. My brother Josef, would join him to help out and get some experience for his hope to be a social worker. Josef was nineteen at the time, and figured this experience would be better than any college class. My mother would stay in our home in Berkeley, California with my sister, Kamili, and me.
On September 30, 1993, we all went to the airport to say goodbye. We were all afraid to be separated, but tried not to show it. My mother was afraid her son and beloved husband would be killed. Truthfully, so was I. As for Kami, I'm not really sure how she felt, but her face mostly showed pain…not much fear. My father and Josef would be flying back to Berkeley during the summer, but that was so long away.
I had tears rolling down my face, and Kami was squeezing my hand so hard I thought it would fall off. She didn't seem to want to cry, to make this all true. My father and Josef both had looks on their faces as though they didn't want to be strong and really wanted to cry, but they had to be strong for us. My mother was sobbing uncontrollably and wouldn't let go of Josef, her only son.
"Don't worry, Rachel," my father said as we hugged goodbye. "I know you're worried about us, but we'll be fine, honey. Just be good for your mother and keep us in your heart."
"Of course Dad. I'll never forget you."
Josef slapped my shoulder. "Bye, Racita. Have fun, and stay cool, dada."
I reached up and kissed his cheek. "You too, angubrathee. You too." We both smiled and squeezed each other hard.
Our family was being split apart and put on separate continents. Somehow that didn't feel right. How were we supposed to keep our family connection when we were so far from each other?
I looked at my mother and hugged her. "It'll be all right, Mother. I promise," I whispered.
She smiled and hugged me back. Then she grabbed my sister's hand and we watched Father and Josef walk away, arms around each other.