I remember the night we walked the streets and he told the details of the days of massacre. The 1994 Rwanda genocide took the lives of his parents, nine brothers, a sister, all of his uncles and aunts, and hundreds of nephews and nieces. He now lives with three surviving nieces. His universe was changed forever.
But he did not succumb to revenge. He chose to break the cycle of violence. He chose the path of peace.
Turning his grief and anger into a life of peace work he served the poorest communities in the areas of trauma healing, peace building and reconciliation as part of World Vision International; he headed a local microfinance institution primarily serving widows of the genocide and HIV/AIDS; through his work with Africare, he has greatly contributed to raising funds and implementing projects to support orphans and vulnerable children in Rwanda. Currently he is the Country Director of Orphans of Rwanda, Inc. (ORI), a U.S. registered charity organization dedicated to relieving the suffering of orphans in Rwanda by providing educational support, health services, and psychosocial support to them and their caregivers.
His utmost wish is to find sufficient resources to facilitate the healing process for HIV/AIDS orphans and widows in Rwanda, to mitigate the effects of the genocide and to promote a meaningful and independent adult life for orphans, their country and the whole human race.
He started the SIR Initiative (International Solidarity for Reconciliation) and is slowly making progress. SIR began when Jean-Baptiste met and forgave the man who killed his mother. Radical forgiveness, and empathy are its guiding principles.
From his email, yesterday:
"In the meantime, I have started working on my family plot in preparation of the "Peace Village", before the genocide it was home of my entire family, which was lost to the genocide. Activities of clearing bushes have already started, some terracing work are going on. Means are very limited but we hope the Peace Village would be finalized and effective within the next five years. We plan to have within it accommodation/retreat facilities, conference halls, gardens, a dispensary, a chapel and sport amenities. The support from friends would be needed. People interested in developing and promoting peace work would also be called to take shares in the Peace Village building and running. We hope the Peace Village would be in a position to generate enough revenue to sustain itself and support other peace work, once in place. The village would be a center for learning, research, documentation and dissemination, healing and inner peace recovery.