Daphrose lost 8 of her 11 children in the genocide of Rwanda. She contemplated killing herself. Instead she took in 20 orphans and started Duhozanye, an organization of hutu and tutsi widows who were married to tutsi men.
The first thing the widows did was start carrying the bodies of their loved ones off the street to bury them. Then rebuilt houses, started businesses, bought cows, took care of all the orphaned children and each other. They share their often horrible stories of killing and rape and meet the killers of their children in the gacaca open air courts.
Genocide and hate is contagious, but so is love, care and hope. Duhozanye now has 4000 widows as members. This documentary tells their stories.
Duhozanye" is the first film about the genocide in Rwanda which explains how racial theories lead to the attempted extinction of an entire lineage. Fertile women and children were targeted. If a hutu woman was married to a tutsi man, all her children and her husband were killed before her eyes. Daphrose, who at the time was defined as tutsi, was sheltered by a family with ID-cards which proved they were hutus, and thereby safe. This artificial separation of "hutu" and "tutsi" is abhorred today. Now everyone calls themselves Rwandan.
During the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, hutu women and men helped tutsi women and children escape the killers. This heritage of compassion is the core of the widow society Duhozanye - "We who comfort each other." The society has now grown to over 4000 surviving widows.
JEANETTE LOST EIGHT SIBLINGS
Daphrose's daughter Jeanette was 10 when she were held captive in a church in Save, and witnessed the massacres there. She wrote a letter to her mother:
- Dear Mommy. Now they have killed all my siblings, and tomorrow they will kill me and my little brother.
After Daphrose got the letter, the hutu family's daughter went to the church to try to save Jeanette and her brother.
DAPHROSE - THE LEADER OF THE WIDOW SOCIETY
Daphrose and three of her children survived. After the genocide she met a hutu woman along the road, who had beed raped and forced to eat human flesh because she was married to a tutsi man. Daphrose gave her clothes and helped her build a new house. Then she founded the widow society along with a handful of widows. She took in 20 children, and adopted eight.
- The reason I wanted to adopt them was that I had 11 children before the genocide, and now only three are left. If a child came to me I took it in, all children have a place in my heart. I felt I had a debt to God, and that's why I took in 20 children.
She runs the village therapy group, where the widows talk about everything they have lost and how their children were killed.
MADELENE CONFRONTS HER SON'S MURDERER IN THE GACACA
Madeline runs the micro economy of the village. She is also responsible for the village's brewery and workshop, where coffins are made. These coffins are used when mass graves are opened to provide decent burials.
- In the gacaca today the boy who killed my 10 year old son was convicted and got three month's rehabilitation because he was 12 himself when he did it. I will have to live with that. What really hurts is that the man who was responsible for killing the rest of my family is trying to get free, with the help of rich relatives in France. He is rich and well educated. This hurts me.
Madeline lost four children and has adopted four orphans.
THE WOMAN WHO GOT NO HELP
She was a hutu woman who was married to a tutsi. Neither friends nor family dared help her.
- There was screaming everywhere. Then I thought: If they come they will kill us all. I was powerless. I broke into my parents house and got hold of some pesticide. I gave it to my children and they drank it. The oldest ran away, so she survived, she was saved by God. My other children died. I drank the rest, but didn't die. I wanted to die with them, but failed.
THE WIDOW SOCIETY
Karoline Frogner has followed the widows of Duhozanye for six years. In that time, the widow society has grown from a few hundred widows to over 4000 today. In one of the interviews in the film, a woman tells how her sister in law was raped and thrown into a grave. The interpreter says she just cannot translate this to Karoline, it is too horrible. But Daphrose is strict with the interpreter: She has to translate it. If she doesn't, how will the world know?
- This is why I made the film. After Holocaust, we said "never again". Yet when it happened again in 1994, we didn't recognice it. We have to understand what a genocide is - a systematic targetting of fertile women and children, to exterminate the whole lineage of one people.