As a Rwandan Child, I was born and raised as a refugee outside my country due to the globally known “Rwandan Genocide against Tutsi” and civil war, that almost brought down everything and left the nation shattered in pieces. However, despite all the difficulties, challenges and hardships my nation went through, today we are so proud of what Rwandans and a nation as a whole have achieved. This history gives us a platform to testify since we have a constructive and empowering story to tell the whole world.
Rwanda is made of two major religions, Christian and Muslim, and among the two I was raised in a Roman Catholic Christian family. Later on, I joined Pentecostal church. Due to the fact that the church’s role during the Rwandan Genocide against Tutsi execution was vivid, it created a very bad image on the Church of Rwanda, whereby this act caused hatred between the church and Christians in the country. So cleaning up this name that was already tarnished, it took such a long time but we thank God for what he has done through his people and Churches in rebuilding the nation. One pillar that had been implemented for this once dying nation to come back to where it is right now was “the Pillar of Unity and Reconciliation.” This also contributes a lot to my work as a community servant. Through the message we always pass around in the communities and churches we work in, it is all based on Unity as one people, and reconciliation in case of any conflict that arises regardless the faith background. This message doesn’t have religious borders, be it a Muslim, Christian or any other background! We are also involved in mentorship and child’s education programs where we match every child with a mentor and we believe that every child regardless of faith background deserves to be mentored.
I have been graced to be part of the amazing Interreligious Youth Forum three years ago in Germany, whereby different faith background gathered and talked about their experiences in their communities. We got to know every faith backgrounds true story in the room, which was mind blowing. It really opened me to diversity and I started realizing that we are just one step away of a better world that we want. It is a matter of understanding the other side, instead of judging.
In Rwanda, my community always prepares activities like reaching out the needy and vulnerable families during this Ramadan season. It involves everyone as a family and it is always a great time during this season to come together as one people with one purpose to change our communities and our nation in Unity and an ongoing Reconciliation with our friends. We often receive invitation from my Muslim friends and colleagues to share Iftar together. It’s always fun and worthwhile; I can only say that sharing a well-cooked meal is one of the most simple acts that make this season glow; and it is always a time to remember with our Muslim friends.
We are all called to live in peace and harmony regardless of our faith backgrounds; Rwanda has chosen to be a place where Unity and ongoing reconciliation is the key to community development and established society. It is to make this world a better place so that future generations will live safely.
Emmanuel Bahinda’s reflection comes to the Parliament of the World’s Religions as part of the 2017 Interfaith Ramadan series, empowering interfaith allies, Muslim and those of other spiritual and religious backgrounds from around the world, to share their stories of service, community and gratitude during the month of Ramadan. Please contact the Parliament at info@ParliamentOfReligions.org, or tag us at #RamadanPoWR to share your own story.
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