From a forgotten photo archive, Rwanda’s orphans reclaim their history

In 1994, Gloriose’s parents died in the Rwandan genocide. Now aged 25, Gloriose is a student at the University of Rwanda in Busogo. In March, 2014, Save the Children staff retraced Gloriose and her brothers, all of whom are now doing well. Colin Crowley/Save the Children

Nairobi, Kenya — Last December, the staff of the British charity Save the Children discovered ten gray metal crates sitting in an old shipping container in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

Inside was a historical treasure trove. Packed in hundreds of green manila folders were handwritten files documenting the experiences of thousands of children whose parents died in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, when Hutu extremists slaughtered over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days.

Each of the roughly 8,000 files contained the story of an orphaned child and a Polaroid photograph. Save the Children tracing teams created the files to help them to unite children with surviving relatives and, in the years after the genocide, traveled around Rwanda to search for adults who might recognize the children and take them in.

As Rwandans this month mark the genocide’s 20th anniversary, the newly unearthed files offer an invaluable archive of one of the darkest episodes of modern history. Save the Children decided to use the archive to track down some of the children who are now adults to show them their picture and to see what had become of them.  Read more…

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