Every April 7th, Rwandans all over the world start a 100-days period of commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi that happened in Rwanda in 1994. The Genocide against the Tutsi took around 1 million lives in a period of three months. For the 26th time, Rwandans are commemorating the lives of many of our brothers and sisters, children, friends and other relatives who were murdered just because of how they were born. The commemoration is one way of keeping what happened in mind and never forget it.
Today, we are proud and grateful that Rwanda is a country of democracy and unity, thanks to our heroes, who were not afraid to give their lives for Rwanda to be where it is today.
This year, we are entering the commemoration period in a time where the whole world is facing a challenging situation due to the outbreak of COVID-19. I wish all Rwandans strength and resilience, as we continue to abide by the decisions taken by our Government regarding the situation that we will be through.
During normal times, we would be with our families or our different communities and be able to gather in order to remember our loved ones. But not being able to do so only increases the pain in our hearts. For some of us, the gatherings were part of healing. Sharing our history is the therapy some of us need. But we understand we can’t change some situations and strength will be our portion as it has always been.
Not being able to gather as usual might affect us in different ways. That is why we also need to take care of our mental health.
Although I can’t dictate on how to spend your time of commemoration, the following can help you stay mentally healthy:
- Talk to someone about your feelings and share your thoughts: social isolating might make you feel alone. Try to call a friend or relative and have a talk about how you feel.
- Seek professional help: you can talk to a specialist in mental health and get help. Community health workers are also near us for a talk and guidance.
- Exercise if you can: being active even at home will help you to stay in good shape physically and mentally.
- Practice self-care: simple actions such as establishing a routine for sleeping and waking up, keeping a healthy diet, staying hydrated, praying, meditating, can help you go through this tough period.
Together, we Remember, Unite, and Renew.
May we never forget how far we have come, how strong we are, and leave that legacy to our future generations.