Under the clear Rwandan sky, the Genocide Memorial in Kigali stood as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
Visiting this Memorial, within its walls as a part of the URI (United Religions Initiative) Global Council and Global Staff gathering unfolded with a deep sense of purpose, centered around the theme “Together Honouring Ubuntu in Action”. In the midst of this gathering was Lejla, URI Individual Membership Coordinator, a person from Bosnia and Herzegovina whose heart still bore the weight of her country’s past.
Lejla’s eyes were drawn to the haunting images displayed in the memorial. Faces of those who had perished during the Rwandan genocide stared back at her, their stories resonating with her own experiences. She walked through the memorial, her thoughts a mixture of sorrow and admiration for the strength that humanity could muster even in the face of unimaginable horrors.
As she paused before a poignant exhibit, Lejla noticed a man standing beside her, his gaze fixed on the same photograph. His presence was unassuming yet carried an air of deep understanding. She recognized him from the URI gathering welcome dinner that was held earlier that week. He is Freddy Mutanguha, the director of the Genocide Memorial in Kigali.
“Two tragedies, two different corners of the world,” Freddy began softly, breaking the silence that hung between them. “Yet, here we are, brought together by the echoes of pain.” With a mixture of sadness and recognition, Lejla responded, “Yes, our stories are bound by the same thread of suffering.”
Freddy nodded, his eyes reflecting both sorrow and determination. “You know all my family members were lost in the genocide. They rest here, within the grounds of this Memorial. Our memorial stands as a reminder of the need to prevent such horrors from happening again.”
Their conversation flowed seamlessly as if they had known each other for years. They shared stories of loss, of survival, and of the shared mission to ensure that the world never forgets the cost of hatred and division. Lejla found herself captivated by Freddy’s presence – his unwavering commitment to honoring the past and building a better future.
As the URI gathering unfolded, Freddy shared his insights into the power of Ubuntu and the need for unity in the face of adversity. The visit to the memorial amplified his message as attendees listened to stories of survival and transformation.
Also, Lejla learned more about Freddy’s desire to join URI as an individual member. His desire to become a URI Individual member reflects the URI commitment to ending religiously motivated violence. His dedication to preserving the memory of the past while actively participating in building a better future aligns perfectly with URI’s vision of creating cultures of peace, justice, and healing.
And so, in the shadow of the Genocide Memorial, two individuals from distant lands found unity, hope, and the promise of a world built upon the foundations of remembrance, empathy, and the power of collective action.
Ultimately, this meeting highlights the transformative potential of coming together (Ubuntu in Action), even in the face of immense suffering, to promote understanding, compassion, and healing for the Earth and all living beings. Just as Lejla and Freddy’s meeting sparks a shared mission, URI envisions a world where individuals and communities work hand in hand to create cultures of peace, justice, and healing by preventing religiously motivated violence and promoting daily interfaith cooperation.
Reflection on Post-War in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Lejla Hasendedic recounts her experience growing in post war Bosnia and Herzegovina.