Mural Painting Project, Nyamata
Rwanda, 2008
The mural painting project is an experiment at the newly built Amani Africa school village in Nyamata. Children who will attend the classes and workshops will paint large murals depicting scenes of traditional Rwandan culture on the walls of the school.

Starting in April 1994, for a period of 100 days, nearly 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutus were slain in a genocide, instigated by the Rwandan government. This horrible chapter of Rwandan history left families destroyed and the nation traumatized and unstable. Tens of thousands of children were victims of violence and rape. Even at very young ages they were forced to participate in military operations and to commit and witness unspeakable acts of violence. A large part of them lost their mothers and fathers. The village Nyamata is sadly known for its church where about 2500 people were massacred by hate-driven Hutus, as they sought protection. Today the Nyamata church houses a genocide memorial. Thousands of skulls and human remains gashed by machetes were collected here and remind of one of the worst chapters in human history. Nyamata as the location for the school to be built was chosen by Amani Africa, because of the high number of orphans and street children that are in need of protection and access to education in this area. There are an estimated 1.26 million orphans in Rwanda, many of them living on the streets. The entire country has a population of 9 million people.

Human Rights Watch report about children in Rwanda

The challenge of the mural painting project in Nyamata consists in the handling of history. How can youth be engaged in reconciliation? What will Hutu and Tutsi children decide to paint at a place which they associate with trauma and which leaves visitors speechless? Does it make sense to depict Nyamata's horrible history in mural paintings? Does the process of painting have the power to initiate reconciliation and healing for individuals and communities? Could the evocation of the past hamper them from moving on and looking ahead into a new, peaceful future? How can peace be established in a region devastated by years of conflict, violence and poverty?

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