Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rwandan Deputy High Commissioner in Liverpool Town Hall

Yesterday the City of Liverpool laid a memorial stone in St John's Gardens to commemorate those massacred in the Rwanda Genocide of 1994.

The city's small Rwandan community commemorates the atrocities every year in a service in the Town Hall and it was suggested last year that it would be very positive and supportive if we could create a permanent memorial for people to visit.

To pay tribute to the City for its thoughtful act, the Deputy High Commissioner, Mrs Linda Kalimba today visited the Lord Mayor, Councillor Sharon Sullivan to convey a message of thanks from her country.

Mrs Kalimba was accompanied by Philomene Uwamaliya who was a survivor of the massacre and now lives in Liverpool. Philomene was a friend of Kensington Remembers for many years and it was lovely to see her again. I attended the visit on behalf of Mayor Joe Anderson and it was a real pleasure to sit with these strong women, a few days after International Women's Day, and hear about their tremendous hard work to rebuild the country.

Mrs Kalimba gave a gift to the city, through the Lord Mayor, of an Agaseke, a peace basket. These baskets are traditional Rwandan items, every home would have one for the woman to keep her private household papers in. However, since the massacre these special baskets are now woven by groups of women survivors, sitting together, some them being victims having lost loved ones, and others being relatives of their murderers. And the women use this weaving opportunity to talk to each other about their hurt and to learn to heal the rifts between them. The baskets are sold through co-operatives to help these women to earn a living. You can make a donation to the project via the link above.

I also took the opportunity to tell  Mrs Kalimba about the speech from Aime-Claude Ndongozi who talked about his experiences as a Rwandan at the 2012 Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration in the Town Hall.

The Chief Executive was represented by Simon from the Regeneration Team.

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