Students learn about Rwanda genocide

Dorset Echo: Thomas Hardye School students and staff with Teresa and Carl Wilkens at the UK Kwibuka20 commemorations Thomas Hardye School students and staff with Teresa and Carl Wilkens at the UK Kwibuka20 commemorations

STUDENTS from a Dorchester school have been learning about the atrocities of an African genocide 20 years on.

A delegation of sixth form pupils and staff from the Thomas Hardye School attended the UK Kwibuka20 commemorations in Birmingham, which remembered the Rwandan genocide.

They had been invited to the event by the Rwandan High Commissioner to the UK.

Kwibuka is the Rwandan word for ‘remember’ and in the 20th anniversary year since the genocide against the Tutsi people there was an emphasis at the event on future generations remembering the genocide with survivors children taking part in the commemorations.

The students and staff listened to speeches, survivor testimonies and discussions about the genocide, as well as the way Rwanda has developed in the last 20 years.

One of the speakers was Carl Wilkens, an American aid worker who refused a US presidential order to leave Rwanda at the start of the genocide and was instrumental in saving the lives of hundreds of orphans at the Gissimba Orphanage in Kigalli.

He gave up a large amount of time to speak the Thomas Hardye School group and reflected upon a Skype conference he gave during the school’s Holocaust Memorial Week earlier this year.

As an Institute of Education Beacon School in Holocaust Education, the Thomas Hardye School is devoted to the teaching of, learning about and commemoration of previous genocides as well as the prevention of genocide in the future.

Holocaust and genocide programme coordinator Kevin Matthews said: “It was an honour and a privilege to be invited to the Kwibuka20 commemorations.

“As the only school in the UK to receive an invite, I feel very proud of what the Thomas Hardye School has achieved this year as an IoE Beacon School in Holocaust Education.”

Following on from this event the school will host a World In Dorset Day that will look at the development of Rwanda since the 1994 genocide.

The event will be held on July 4 to mark the 20th anniversary of the end of the genocide.

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