(1/4) “When we heard the president had been killed, I ran into the street with my friends. We wanted to see what was happening. Immediately two men came running after us with guns. They were pointing at us and screaming: ‘You killed the president!’ All of us ran in different directions. I ducked into a neighbor’s house and climbed into the ceiling, but my shoes fell off and landed on the bed. The men discovered my shoes and they climbed into the ceiling after me. Luckily I squeezed into a place they could not fit. But when they finally left, the owner of the house told me I had to find another place. He told me that people were hiding at the church of St. Paul, and that I should go there. I left at 3 AM. I walked through the forest. I could hear gunfire and screaming in the dark. The church was less than a kilometer away but the journey took me two hours. When I finally arrived, I discovered hundreds of other survivors. We were housed in the building behind me. Every hour more people would arrive. Each time a newcomer came through the front door, we would rush to them for news. I learned that my brothers had been killed. They had run to a nearby church, but the pastor opened its doors to the killers. Another person told me that my mother had been killed. She’d taken refuge in a nuns’ compound. She was randomly chosen for death and shot in the head at 10 AM. She lived until 5 pm. But by the time I heard this, I couldn’t even cry. I was completely numb. I was just waiting to die myself.” (Kigali, Rwanda) (2/4) “The conditions were tolerable at first. We were eating twice a day. We could take showers. But people kept pouring into the church compound. Eventually there were two thousand of us. All the young men began sleeping in the ceiling. Women and children slept on the floor. Beds were given to the elderly. All of the priests abandoned us except for one. His name was Celestin Hakizimana, and he stayed with us until the very end. Every day he’d put on his gown, and stand right here at the gate. When the killers arrived, he would tell them: ‘We only have innocents here. Go find the enemy on the battlefield.’ If they refused to leave, he would take them to the church office and bribe them with money. Once the killers tried to lure him from the compound by saying his father was dead, and that he was needed at the funeral. But he told them: ‘Please send my blessings.’ He wouldn’t abandon us. If any survivors knew the location of their family, Father Celestin would do his best to find them. He would put on his gown and drive out into the world. One night he came back bloodied and beaten. He had been stopped at a roadblock, laid down in the road, and kicked in the street. But the next day he put on his gown once more, and drove out into the world. He couldn’t always keep the killers out. Some days they’d come with lists of people to kill. And there was nothing he could do. He’d do his best to fool them by creating a registry of fake names. But then they would choose people randomly. They’d drag out twenty people at a time and bring them to their death. Nothing could be done.” (Kigali, Rwanda) (3/4) “One morning the killers brought a list of names, and gathered everyone together. They told us to sit on the floor. They stepped through the crowd and began reading out the names. My name was called out, but it was misspelled by one letter. They kept shouting ‘Marengo’ instead of ‘Masengo.’ But I knew it was me they were looking for. They told the crowd: ‘If you give up these people, we won’t come back to kill your sons and daughters.’ But nobody spoke. The killers were examining one person at a time. I sat with my head between my knees. Back then I had the face of a girl, so I tried to cover myself with fabric. Some of the killers were from my neighborhood. I knew that when they got around to me, I would be recognized. So I slipped out and ran toward a banana plantation. One of them spotted me and alerted the others. I jumped over a brick fence and dove into the tallest grasses I could find. Soon I heard footsteps. They were walking all around me. I remember one of them saying: ‘Cockroaches are so mysterious. How are they able to disappear?’ He got so frustrated that he hacked at a banana tree with his machete. The leaves fell on my legs. I was lying with my cheek on the dirt. I remember the exact time because my watch was next to my face. It was 12:22 PM. I remember thinking: ‘This is the time I’m going to die.” (Kigali, Rwanda) (4/4) “I managed to escape that day, but things had grown desperate. In the end there were two thousand of us trying to survive. We’d begun to run out of food. The militia was losing on the battlefield and began to grow frustrated. Two days before our rescue, they came to the church for a final big attack. They were going in every room. They were finding everyone. Some of the mothers were lying on mattresses over their sons, trying to hide them. But it was no use. I’d managed to climb into the ceiling. I’d poked holes in the exterior wall so I could breathe. Through those holes I could see everything that was happening outside. They tied every boy up, two-by-two. They brought them to this exact spot and began to beat them. Their mothers were screaming and crying from inside the building. One group of boys was pulled to the center. These were my friends. We played soccer together. We studied together. Sebajura. Galindo. Muyoboke. Jean Bosco—he was a believer. They walked up to Jean Bosco and kicked him in the head. They told him: ‘We know you are a friend of Masengo. Tell us where he is.’ And Jean Bosco knew. He knew where I was. He’d seen me climb into the ceiling. But he didn’t say a word. So they beat him harder. They kept saying: ‘Tell us, tell us, tell us.’ But he kept silent. He kept silent until his last breath. And then they shot him. Jean Bosco died because of me. He died for me. Seventy-two young men died that day. The crowd screamed the entire time. But that night when I finally climbed down from the ceiling, everyone was silent. Nobody was saying a word.” (Kigali, Rwanda) This story is very touching. Jean Crawford was a hero.