Subjects: Hutu and Tutsi, physical appearance, cows, culture, economics, education, sports
Hyperlink: Hutu and Tutsu differences
Subjects: April 1994, death of President Habyarimana, RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front), fear, culture, terrorism, chaos
Hyperlink: Assassination of President Habyarimana
Subjects: RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front), hate radio, news
Hyperlink: Rwandan radio stories
Subjects: Confusion, attack, neighborhood watch, Hutu training
Hyperlink: Hutus in training
Subjects: weapons, targeting educated people, grandmother, grenades, altar, praying
Hyperlink: Militia attacks the church
Subjects: cousins, rescue
Hyperlink: Ntarama Church after genocide
Subjects: RPF, bow and arrow, governement soldier, secret service, buses, rain, female soldier encounter, Twa tribe, government
Hyperlink: Twa tribe
Subjects: Bamboo bush, buses, attacks, hiding, suicide, clothes, ants, grenades, bullets, stones
Hyperlink: Rwanda during genocide
Segment Synopsis: running, banana leaves, fire, guns, RPF, government, bamboo bush, teacher, money, numbness
Keywords: "When am I dying next?"
Hyperlink: RPF fighters march into Kigali
Hyperlink: Rwandan Patriotic Front
Subjects: disease, malaria, cholera, pneumonia, malnutrition, RPF, rape, innocence
Keywords: "Who are we?" "Why do you treat another person like that?"
Subjects: dead bodies, trauma, moving forward, education, evil, nature, masterminds of genocide, conscious, moral education
Hyperlink: Rwandan genocide
Subjects: Wife, Burundi, working part-time, students, insurance, at-risk children
Hyperlink: Rwanda Children
SLOAN: All right. This is Stephen Sloan. The date is August 5, 2015. We are inthe A. Webb Roberts Library at Southwestern [Baptist] Theological Seminary, and this is an interview with Serge Gasore. Thank you, Serge, for sitting down today. This is an interview with Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission's project, Survivors of Genocide.
It is an honor to be able to sit down with you and take some time for you toshare your story today. I would like to begin, if I could, with some of your family background. Before we get to the events of the genocide and those events of the nineties, I would like to hear a little bit about--I've heard you share some in your book about your family background, about your grandfather, and 1:00about your parents. If you could share a little bit of your family background, that would be great.
GASORE: My name is Serge Gasore. I was born in Rwanda in 1986. My mom was fromthe same area as my father. They were married for four years, and after that my mom passed away. My mom was killed. After my mom was killed, I moved and went to live with my grandmother. We were in a small village. I can easily run five 2:00minutes and I'll be at my grandmother for my mom. I can run three miles and I'll be at my father's parents. We were, like, in the same area. Also, in my country, the way you identify family is different than the way you identify your family in the United States. In my country, what we call our family is our cousin, our uncles, our brothers from uncles, our grandparents, our great-great-grandparents. All of those are family. Here in America, when you are 3:00talking about family you are talking about father, mother, and children.
SLOAN: In this village, a small village, you had a lot of family.
GASORE: Yes. I had a large a family. That's why if in my story I talk about myfamily being attacked, be careful how you're going to interpret that.
SLOAN: Now, I know when you were very young, you lived with your grandmother,but your parents worked in the city?
GASORE: My father worked in the city because that's where jobs were available.My mom also, before she died, she worked in the city, as well. In our culture, a lot of times, when your father is working and your mom is working, your grandmother backs them up. Your grandmother can take you, and you can live with 4:00them. Then, when they are available, they can come and get you. It's not like you're going to have a babysitter or something like that.
SLOAN: Now, I know your family had cattle, of course.
GASORE: A lot of cattle.
SLOAN: There's livestock to take care of. That must have been, along withschool, part of what you had to do at a young age.
GASORE: Yes. I remember at a very young age, I would take about--I remember,[at] seven years old, I was responsible enough to take about fifty cattle in a pasture to go get food, and nobody would feel uncomfortable because they knew I knew all I can do to take care of them.
SLOAN: A lot of responsibility for a young man.
GASORE: Yes. A lot of responsibilities. That lives in my mind, too. It's a great5:00memory. In my book, I talk about the smell of the cows and remember times when I had to go get extra food for the cows, no matter what I did to get them. Milk was a treasure to us and still is right now.
SLOAN: The family had a lot of cows, so they were doing fairly well.
GASORE: Yes. What's so funny about that is that you might have two hundred cows,but you can't afford to send your children to school, or your children can't afford to drink tea with sugar. When you look at that, it's an issue of a lack 6:00of education because parents really don't see why they [are] going to sell one cow and buy you a school uniform, or sell one cow and buy you sugar to drink with the tea, or sell one cow to pay your tuition. They would rather have you sit home, but they'll still have their two hundred cows.
SLOAN: If they got money, get another cow. Right?
GASORE: Yes. (Sloan laughs) They were very rich in the sense that they wouldjust hold on to that, their treasure. You know, in my culture, if I give you a cow, one cow, it's worth one million. That means I honor you, I'm very appreciative of our friendship, and that's a way to show that. 7:00
SLOAN: Livestock is very important.
GASORE: My bride price for my wife was cows.
SLOAN: How many cows?
SLOAN: Twelve cows. Very valuable.
GASORE: Very valuable. (Sloan laughs) Yes. They would let me pay those twelvecows instead of paying $15,000.
SLOAN: She was worth it, right?
SLOAN: Okay, all right. Good. (laughs)
GASORE: I'll pay more than twelve. (all laugh)
SLOAN: Some other memories from younger--I know you had an Aunt Agnes that wasyour grandmother's right hand. Is that her name?
GASORE: Yes. That was my grandmother's--basically, my daddy's mom's daughter,Agnes. Agnes was a right hand to my grandmother because while others grew up and 8:00went in the city to look for jobs, she stayed in the same neighborhood. That's how she became a right hand because she would come and check on her. She would make sure when she's sick she gets medication. If she needs anything that some of her other kids need to provide, she would reach out to them where they were living in the city. She was very, very helpful to my grandmother. Of course, as a child, you know, I was getting sick here and there. I had to get punished for some behavior, so that was the person who would come and put me back on line.
SLOAN: Well, I'll ask both those questions: what did you get in trouble for? If9:00you can think of some examples of when you got in trouble then, how would they punish you?
GASORE: I got in trouble for--I was very popular. I was one of those childrenwho knows everybody in the neighborhood. I can remember everybody's first name, last name, what they did, their family members. I was out there in the neighborhood all the time, so I would get in trouble for disappearing and not getting jobs done, because as a child you have to take some responsibilities. At four years old, I was going to get water from [the] water well, and that was probably about ten miles. If we didn't have the water to wash dishes, to drink, 10:00or to cook with, my aunt would come and put me back in line.
SLOAN: I can tell that you liked your independence. You liked being able to goout on your own.
GASORE: Yes. I like independence. I'm still getting in trouble for it at my job.(both laugh)
SLOAN: One thing that I'd like to ask about, and this is something I want to askabout your early years. As an outsider, and the people that will be watching this are outsiders too, [something which] is very important to understand, and sometimes is hard for us to understand, is the Hutu and Tutsi and the differences there. I know at a younger age, I think you say in the book, that you didn't notice as much of a difference. I'm wondering how that comes to you and how you begin to understand the differences in your story. 11:00
GASORE: The way colonizers taught divisions in my country, Rwanda, is kind ofconfusing, because they would say because you are tall, you have a sharp nose, and you are skinny, then you are automatically a Tutsi. They even used to measure how tall your nose is. Also, they would come back and say if you are short, kind of heavyset guy, you'll be a Hutu. Then they come back and they say 12:00if you have a lot of cows, no matter if you are short or tall, you are automatically a Tutsi. Then they come back and say if you are a businessman, you don't like cows, then you become Hutu. So, it's kind of confusing. When I was growing up, I can hear those things from people who were older who knew what they were talking about. Basically, I was always watching the person who was short to identify myself, basically to separate myself from them. So, if you were short, have a big nose, I say, "Oh, you are a Hutu. Period." That's 13:00probably at school. After the genocide, when I got an education, I started to read the history, and I realized that really there is not a true connection based on what [the colonizers] said. Based on characteristics that they--I'm trying to find a good way to put this way.
SLOAN: Sure. It's a very artificial division, right?
SLOAN: One group, another group. As you say, part of it physical, part of itcultural, economic.
GASORE: Right. We still find people who are short, but they're Tutsi. Mother,father, they're both Tutsi, but they're short. When you study biology, too, you 14:00find out that there is no connection whatsoever between becoming short and being a Hutu.
SLOAN: As a child, as far as who you could play with as a child, who you couldassociate with, maybe even church life, how did that play out?
GASORE: When I was in school--because the way the government was set up was thatthe president was a Hutu and the president would try to surround himself with Hutu, of course. Maybe, here and there, put one Tutsi or two. That escalated down, so you would find the headmaster is a Hutu. You find out that most of the 15:00teachers are Hutu except probably three, just to cover themselves. Then, all of a sudden, they have education. They come back. They train teachers not to mix children. In school, they will come and say, Hutus, you stand here; Tutsis, you stand here. Basically, they were trying to create divisions among us, and that's how it started. I'll go home and I'll ask my grandmother. I'll say, "Today they taught us as Tutsi to stand up and go outside for an hour." She'll be like, "My son, we are used to that." Because the government was very supportive of divisions, it was happening the way they wanted. 16:00
SLOAN: I'm wondering even if you're playing football, is it Tutsis on one teamand Hutu on another team? I mean, those divisions--
GASORE: We would play--soccer?
SLOAN: Yeah, soccer.
GASORE: Because it's very popular in my country, especially on the Africancontinent. Sometimes we would be on the same team, but when you want to hurt anybody in the team you are playing with, you hurt the Hutu, or the Hutu will hurt you. You know how, like, in a game, if they want to kick you out of the game, somebody might come and kick you in your knee? So, if a Hutu really got a good training from their father or their teacher, they would come and kick your knee because teachers, parents were teaching those divisions at home, at school. 17:00I don't think Tutsis were doing that much because they were worried that they would get retaliation. Hutus were the ones who were doing that all the time. They would even wait for you on your way home and even beat you up like a snake if they really got those division trainings from their father, their mom, or their grandparents.
SLOAN: Another thing I know that was important early on in your life was church.That was a big, big part of your life. Can you tell me about that?
GASORE: Yes. Church for us was like--you know how you wake up, you wash yourface, you brush your teeth, you get breakfast? It was the same to us. Church was 18:00like you work from Monday through Saturday; Sunday morning, regardless, you've got to go to church. That didn't mean that it was because you are a very good Christian, but you knew what you was going there to do. It was more like a tradition. I'm going there because my grandmother goes there, my father goes there. I grew up seeing my great grandparents going there, so I'm going to go, too. Church was very important. What made it so popular in my area is because we had a very small Catholic church that had white priests. We felt honored to have 19:00white priests there. We were very, kind of, like, we have better preachers than yours. I think that's why we had a big number of Catholics before the genocide. We had a lot of white priests, and everybody wanted to go to the white priests' church.
SLOAN: Was it a status?
GASORE: Yes, status. It's still like that today, but we don't have that manywhite priests anymore, after the genocide, because the Roman Catholics were very involved in the genocide, having their members killing people. Catholic is not a 20:00popular name in my country anymore.
SLOAN: More Protestant?
SLOAN: I know things changed dramatically after your second grade year. That isApril 1994 when things began to change. I know the big event in there and a very clear memory for you is the death of the president [President Juvénal Habyarimana] and the news of that. Can you tell me that story, just as you remember it, how that news came to you, and maybe how your family reacted?
GASORE: Okay. I guess that's the part that really describe[s] what I had to gothrough. Okay. We've lived in those divisions at school, in the neighborhood, at 21:00church, and we've learned that the president is a Hutu. The president is not happy about Tutsis, and he wants to do all he can to exterminate all the Tutsis. He wants all the Hutus to get Tutsis' belongings and become rich. Those things are things that we've been hearing. We've been hearing that there is a group of Tutsis outside of Rwanda in Uganda who wants to come back and rescue us.
SLOAN: This is the RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front]?
GASORE: RPF. We know the group is coming to save us, but we don't know what type22:00of power or capacity they have to be able to get us out of that situation, to win over the Hutu government. We were just like, Okay. What's going to happen? I'm going to say that people who were old enough, who were listening to news, were able to understand the situation. They knew that those people outside could probably come and take over, but at that time, both sides were having peace talk. The Hutu government and the Tutsis who were outside in Uganda were both having peace talk. Really, for us small people, we really didn't know what was 23:00going on.
SLOAN: Sure. You were so young.
GASORE: Yes. We will often hear, "Oh, that's their game. We will continue todie. That's a game they're playing." That's the politics.
SLOAN: I know you had said you had heard stories; there were stories floatingaround about Tutsis, some that had left and joined the RPF and some that had tried to leave and join the RPF?
GASORE: Yes. My uncle was one of them. People had been dying here and there inthe neighboring village, and we got to where we were used to it because the government was killing people in different areas to discourage people who were outside--or revenge; I'll put it that way. We got to where we were used to it, 24:00you know? We hear gun sounds, we run away. We hear bullets, we run here--we're hoping to come back. It became a reality when the Hutu president was coming from the peace talk in Arusha and his plane was shot down. To me, as a young kid [who was] very stubborn, really that didn't mean a lot. Besides, you know, I felt so good. I was like, "Okay. Now he's dead. I've been learning that he was the person who wanted to abuse us and kill us and do all those kinds of stuff." So I was, "Oh great." But, I look in my grandmother's eyes, something else is telling me a different story because my grandmother knew. She was like, "The president 25:00is killed. They're going to come back and blame us Tutsis, and they're going to come back and retaliate, and it's going to come to us." So, my grandmother was like, "Oh! Be careful. Be careful about what you say, how happy you get, how far you can go being happy." At that very night, all Tutsis started getting scared. We went to bed without knowing what's going to happen the next day.
So, we went to bed. I woke up. I thought life would continue like it used to be.Grabbed my bucket on my way to go get water--because in every morning I wake up 26:00and go get water. On my way, I met a person who was working at a Catholic headquarters in my city. His name was Gregor. He said, "Where are you going?" I said, "I'm going to get water so I can come and shower and go to school." He said, "No, I was [on] my way to work." He was with his bike. "I learned that people are being killed, so I'm coming back. Oh! Go back home right now." Like I said, in my culture, anybody is your father, anybody is responsible for your safety. A person can see you in the street doing something wrong, and they'll punish you. Your father will still be okay because it's more like social--it's community. What can I do for you when you're not there? So him telling me "Go 27:00home," I can't question that; I've got to go home. It's a person who works at a Catholic church. It's a person with respect in the community. [When he says], "Okay. You go home," I go home.
After that, I went home. I told my grandmother what was happening. She was like,"Yeah. I knew that. I knew it was going to happen." At the same time, we can hear kids screaming, cows making noise, goats. You can see smoke of houses being burned on [the] other side of the village. You can have a sense of chaos. I can see that in my dream, but, I guess, my grandmother can see that as a reality 28:00unfolding. So, we start putting our stuff together. My grandmother was like, "We're going to have to head out and go where everybody is going." Everybody at that time was heading to the Catholic church [Ntarama Catholic Church]. Our biggest hope was nobody is going to come inside the church and kill us. As I'm talking to my grandmother, she's putting together mattresses and all of our belongings. People are walking down in the street, a lot of people in the street. Of course, like I said, livestock is a treasure for us, so when I leave my house, I got to go with all my cows, all my goats, all my chickens. In a street smaller than where you and I are sitting, you find cows, people with 29:00their belongings and mattresses. It was chaos. I can't even describe that movement of that time. We headed to church, and as we are going to church, people are coming with blood on their head. We say, What happened to you? "Oh, my neighbor just beat me up with a--" it is a stick with nails. They used to get a long stick and put nails on it, and that was one of the traditional weapons. "Oh, they just hit me with that." We moved to the church. (audio overlaps?) When 30:00we go to the church for the first day, it was fine. Not many people were there at that time, but the people were still coming and coming from all different directions.
SLOAN: Can I ask you a couple questions?
SLOAN: One thing I know that was very important was the radio, as far as gettinginformation. I think you went to a neighbor's house before the move to the church. I know you also have RPF radio. I don't know if you have access to it then, but they have their radio. They have information. Then you have the state run radio. Can you talk a little bit about that?
GASORE: Yes. First of all, on the first day, we didn't move to the church.People kept coming down, passing by our house from all directions heading to the 31:00church, because we were living on a hill. We stayed home, but a few houses and our neighbor stayed there. Those were Tutsis, too. They stayed there, and we had a Hutu neighbor. I talk about that family as well in the book. When we stayed there, we tried to capture any news we can get. The truth was we're going to be attacked. We're probably going to be killed next day or next hour, but can we capture any news that is out there? The way we would learn about any news is to turn on Rwanda National Radio. When you turn on Rwanda National Radio, all 32:00they're talking about is, "Stay in your home. Don't move. We're going to kill cockroaches. We're going to pay back for you killing our president," things like that.
We had Muhabura Radio, which was RPF, the rebels who were coming from Uganda tocome and rescue us, who had a radio but their radio was in the mountains. Sometimes you have a frequency, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you can hear it, sometimes you can't. A lot of times, when you wanted to hear it, you go on a high hill and maybe a family is living there, [so] you hide. I remember when we were trying to listen to that radio on that night, we had to go under the bed to 33:00turn on the radio, or you have to close all the doors so you can hear it and your Hutu neighbor won't know that you're listening to the RPF radio. Really, we were listening to the news on that night, but we were desperate, too desperate, already. Listening to radio or not listening to radio was useless.
SLOAN: Did you have any interaction with your Hutu neighbor right after the--
GASORE: Yes, I talk about that in the book. My neighbor--yes. This is a neighborwho we used to share food, you know, great time. When they had [a] baptism in their family they would invite us. If we had [a] baptism, we would invite them. If they needed any kind of help, they would come to us. If we needed any help, 34:00we would go to them. I used to hang out with one of their children. When the genocide started, when the Hutu president's plane was shot down, it really didn't stop us right away. It didn't stop us from interacting. You can tell that some Hutu families were as confused as we were. They would try and stay on our side a little bit, as long as they can. That's when they came to us. They say we're going to--okay. Let me explain to you what happened. Even up to this time, 35:00when people in the village are attacked, or they have a sense of attack coming, they do neighboring watch. Do they call it neighbor--
SLOAN: Neighborhood watch?
GASORE: Neighborhood watch, they do neighborhood watch. They would come to usand say, "The president was killed, so there is some insecurity and instability. We are joining other people in neighborhood watch." They would leave. They would say, "We're going to join our neighborhood watch in this village." So, they would disappear during the day, and they would come back at night.
I remember, there was a time when they came back. One of their men came, and he36:00said, "Oh, Serge." He was like my very, very good friend. He would play with me as a kid. He came to me. He had a machete with blood on it. I asked him, "What's on your machete?" He said, "Oh, it's blood." [I asked,] "Blood from what?" He said, "From cows. We had a lot of meats, and I'll bring you some tomorrow," knowing that that machete was used to kill people from the other neighbor village. Our relationship really, all of a sudden, just stopped because they 37:00moved their whole family to another camp where they were staying.
Basically, Hutus went and created a camp for themselves in another village, justa small suburban area. That helped them. When they wanted to come and to attack us, it helped their plan because they would talk about what they're going to do. Today, how many people are we going to kill? How many cows do we need to get from them? Who is going to attack this neighborhood? Who is going to attack this neighborhood? Them being a concentration camp really helped them putting a plan together to kill as many Tutsis as they can.
After they disappeared, I didn't see Celestin until after the genocide. I can't38:00even remember if I talk about him. I was trying not to talk about it because when he came they killed him, and I still remember that. As much as I hated him, because he was among the killers, I hate to see him being killed because he was killed right away over there. I know he asked for forgiveness, but it was too late. People were already angry, sad, upset. They killed him right away.
SLOAN: Now, you said that before the genocide you had seen training?39:00
SLOAN: Was this the militia that was doing some training?
GASORE: Yes. That's a militia--Interahamwe. Basically, what happened was rightbefore the genocide. That takes us back to--do you call it pre-genocide? When they were doing all they can to teach those divisions, they were preparing for the genocide. That's when they had meetings. They had political parties, and they would meet on certain days. During those meetings, they would have their pro-members, and they would teach them how to manipulate small people, people 40:00with a lack of education, how do you manipulate them.
What they started doing after the meetings--in the book I talk about politicalparty meetings. After that, they would get the kids and train them how to kill people. They would use police from the district to come down and train young kids how to kill a person really quick, how to kill a baby, how to kill an old person, how to defend yourself if a Tutsi were to attack you. Those were just, like, normal. On Saturday, after the political party meeting, they would have 41:00young kids who came to that meeting. They would separate them, put them in a smaller bunch, and train them. That was really normal. When you see a group of young people on a Saturday afternoon, you won't think it's a Bible class. You say, "Oh, that's the Hutus. They're being trained." But, at my age, I couldn't even ask, "Oh why?" I was like, "Okay. It's them. It's Hutus." But, old people knew what was going to happen.
SLOAN: We can go back. You leave and go to the church. One thing that raises aquestion for me is that your cattle are extremely important. How do you flee and go to the church and take steps to guarantee? I know your family has to be 42:00thinking about that as well.
SLOAN: What steps do they take to try to take care of the possessions or the cattle?
GASORE: Uh, say that again.
SLOAN: You flee and you go to the church. Are you having to secure your--I knowsome possessions you bury in the backyard to try to keep them safe. Are you also taking steps to try to make sure your cattle or your cows are safe?
GASORE: Yes. We did it, but it didn't work. I remember, my uncle, who was livingdown the hill, came and got some cows, and we kept some cows. The reason why my uncle came is because many people were under the impression that they would be 43:00able to defend themselves and keep their cows. That's why my grandmother was like, "Oh, okay. Here, Eugene. You come and get all the cows, and then me and Serge will just run." So, we gave him all the cows, everything. We kept probably about five cows, which we took with us at church. My uncle, on the first and second day, he didn't move to the church. He stayed where he was and the whole reason was to defend himself and maybe keep his cows, but on the third day, he was at church with us with no cows. When they attacked him the first day, they took all the cows, so he came at church with no cows. Our cows we had in front 44:00of the church disappeared one by one. Today, you still see your cow over here. You'd be happy that your cow is still here. Tomorrow, it's gone. We try to live off of our cows' milk for a while, but it didn't stay like that for a while. All of a sudden, it just stopped. Especially on the third day, when we were attacked, they just took away everything.
SLOAN: Now, the idea of going to the church was the church would be a safe--
GASORE: Safe haven.
SLOAN: --place. Safe haven. Because the Hutus are Christians as well, the ideawould be that they wouldn't attack you at the church.
GASORE: You know, our country had the highest [percentage] of Christians, above90 [percent], so somebody coming and attacking you in a church would be the 45:00least thing to think about.
SLOAN: I know there's a first occasion where the militia comes to the church.
SLOAN: Can you tell me about that?
GASORE: Militia came at church the first day--no, no. So, the first day--I'mtalking about the first three days at church. There is actually one day I really don't talk about when we--after the president died at night. Then, in the morning, other neighbors moved to the church. We stayed there, so when I talk about the first day, I talk about the next day, which perhaps it's the second day or third day. Then, on the first day at church, really we didn't get 46:00attacked because when they came--so, this is the neighborhood. The Hutus are coming from here, here, and here, and here from all directions, all pointing at one place, at church. We had guys who would try to defend themselves. They would go into all these different entrances to the church and defend us. On the first day, they were able really to defend us. Hutus came but really didn't approach us. [The Hutu attackers] were able to get hold of our cows and our belongings because when they were coming at church they would pass our houses.
Then, on the second day, we started to get weaker and weaker because thegovernment heard that Tutsis were trying to defend themselves. The government 47:00said, "No. They can't defend themselves. We can't continue to use traditional weapons. We've got to send help." That's when they started sending army, military. They even started sending army who were secret services, who had very heavy weapons, so we started getting weaker. Some of our guys who would defend us were killed. After they died, we were desperate; nobody [was] there to defend us. Second day, they came. One of the groups, from us, was able to push back a little bit, but all of a sudden they lost it. They attacked us, but they didn't 48:00get inside the church. [The Hutu attackers] were able to kill people who were outside. After [the Hutu attackers] killed them, we buried them and life continued.
Third day--the worst--the last one. They came. They were ready from alldirections, from all angles, all corners at church. You know, for the past two days every morning you go home--it's very early in the morning--to see if you can get some food from your home. On the third day, we thought it would be the same. We woke up very early, went to our homes--what we were calling our homes. Got some food. As soon as we get at church, Hutus with all kinds of weapons. For 49:00those who were very smart, who knew what was going on, they could sense that. Right now, that's when I started to see. When I was writing the book, I can start seeing that people were old enough [to] see what was going to happen. The day before, [the Hutu attackers] came and took all the strong, smart, educated people who were among us. They took them and we don't know where they took them. They shot some outside. They took some to kill them away from us. It was coming, but I would be lying if I say that I was seeing that. Basically, you was living your moment as you would try to live. Probably, we were numb. We didn't have a 50:00feeling or thinking about the future.
SLOAN: Your grandmother was trying to protect you. She wouldn't have told youwhat was--
GASORE: No. At that age, you also think that everything is a game. On that day,I'm sitting with my grandmother inside the church. The church is packed all the way. You'll be very lucky if you find a place to put your feet down. My grandmother was always comforting me. She said, "Come over here." So I slept on her thighs. All of a sudden, grenades started coming in. You hear kids screaming, bullets coming in through from all angles. It was out of control. My 51:00grandmother was a very good Christian. She stood up. She said, "It's getting out of control. I've got to go join people who are up front." In front of the church, on the altar in the church, praying, hoping that they would die praising God and singing. As she stood up--you know, I'm always a child who was always with Grandmother. She stood up, I'm like, "You can't leave me behind. I need to go with you." She walked to the front. As we reach between the first chair and the altar, a grenade came and just took her--just hit her. I was a few steps 52:00behind her, and she just blasted. When she blasted I got confused. I have some bruises here in my head. I had blood everywhere on my body. There was no way to look back. I just ran, finding where I can escape, how I can escape.
I ran through the window and out the door. There was a street between the churchground and the other side. I run across the street. I ran nonstop. I didn't look behind. As I get a little bit further from the church, there was a hole--these 53:00holes we dig for to protect our lands. I talk about that in the book. A policeman saw me running and he shot [at] me. As we were exiting the church, some Interahamwe, police, and armies were out there watching who is going to escape from the church so they can shoot them. This police that I know, a police who was my neighbor, who actually killed his wife and his kids before the genocide started because they were Tutsis, his name was Zach. He saw me, started shooting at me, and when I missed the first bullet, all of a sudden, I fell down. Somebody had pooped over there, and it was a rainy season, so I slipped 54:00into it. It just threw me into that hole, so he lost his target. I kept crawling, crawling, crawling until he couldn't see me no more. I kept running. At that time, I was like, "I'm not going to stop until I reach the last point." They came inside the church and killed everybody they can find. Some of the killers knew my family, so they were able to--they basically did it as a hobby--to kill people and then they will stack each family. They'll make a pile of each family. That was kind of like a game for them.
After that, my cousins, my uncles, my sisters, all of them were there, so I kept55:00running. I didn't stop. I even passed the place where I went for primary school, which is where most people stopped, but I didn't stop at that place. I just kept running. When I got into the bush--it was a bush mixed with banana trees--I ran into a group of guys. I can't really remember the name of the guys, but they were guys that I knew were from my tribe, tall guys, all of them Tutsis, so I don't run. First of all, I thought they were killers, so I was about to really run away. I look at them and they said, "Oh, oh. This is Serge. Okay." We joined each other. I can't really remember if they met by accident like I did or if 56:00they moved together from the very beginning. We started running, but they had some weapons, so they were very confident, and they were strong. After I met them I was like, "This is it. I am probably safe for now." We stayed there. Like I said, they knew how big the situation was. I didn't. They didn't want to go back. They just stayed there.
SLOAN: In the bush?
GASORE: In the bush. All night we were like, Okay. They started talking aboutgoing back to the church to find out who survived and who died. When someone would question it would be like, "So, how about if we go back and then we get attacked again?" Then, someone would be like, "We'll be all right or we can go 57:00hide where they have already finished the kill." We merged into a bamboo bush that was nearby. This bamboo bush has soft ground. We kept going through that bamboo bush and it got dark. Of course, at that time, really nobody had electricity in that area. We kept walking inside the bush. Nobody knows where we're going.
I don't know if you know about the bamboo bush; when it's too big, once you getinside it, you can't really know where you are. Especially, when they are too tall, because really you can't say, "Oh that's the hill. That's Fort Worth. That's Waco." You can't really tell. We were in there, in the middle of nowhere. 58:00We don't know which direction we are going to head to go back to the church, to our houses, to our homes, or even find another safe area, because at that time of night, you hear noise on this side, you hear noise from this side, hear noise on this side. Those were Hutus who were having fun eating cows they got from Tutsis.
Every time we [thought] this is our exit to go home, we would run into a bigparty of Hutus. We found out that [the violence is happening] even far from our homes. We would go there, because the genocide was everywhere. It's not like 59:00Fort Worth was safe, Waco was having trouble, and San Antonio was a little bit safe. No. Everywhere the situation was the same. In the book, I think I use [the metaphor], "When you spray insecticide to kill cockroaches, it's got to touch every cockroach." You'll be seeing chaotic [events] in every area, so we stayed there [in the bamboo bush]. By God's grace, we found direction going to our homes.
I know one thing I remember. In the middle of the night I was kind of gettingsleepy. Because the bamboo bush has some areas [that] have a lot of water, you can easily get trapped in the water and even go a lot deeper. I remember getting 60:00sleepy. I was about to get caught, and one of the guys grabbed me and said, "Oh, don't! Stay behind [me]." They helped me. Once we got out, everybody was like, What do we do? Do we go back to the church? For some reason, they knew the school didn't get affected, so they say, Let's go to school. That's where many people were. Those people who survived the church, a few of them went and camped at the school. We moved from home, went to the church, came from church, went to school. That's our third stop, yeah, basically our second stop. We went back to 61:00school, me and those guys. The plan was, let's go to school. We see who's survived. We go to the church, maybe get to see our families' bodies. Then, let's go head out to the bush. There is a bush that was nearby that was very popular, and they thought that it was going to be a safe haven. As I got to the school, everybody is celebrating, "Oh! You survived! How did you survive? We saw your grandmother's body. We thought you died with her." Everybody is hugging me. My brothers who survived, Simba--the one I talk about in the book, they're hugging me. They're bringing me milk, food here and there. Life became normal again. [Perhaps for others,] the question was, "When am I going to be killed 62:00next time?" For me, I was like, "Okay. I'll take it."
SLOAN: You could rest. You could eat.
GASORE: Yes. Get rest. I was like, Hopefully this is it. I head out to thechurch. I say, "I've got to go." I went to the church. On my way, I met my cousin who had survived at the church. She said, "No. Your grandmother is dead already." I knew that she was dead, so I continue going to the church. Here, I walk in the church. My family is here--dead bodies. My cousin was trapped under their bodies--dead bodies. She called my name. I heard my name. I say, "Who's that?" I tried to walk away, and she called my name again. That's when I called other people that were there and say, "Come and help me." We had to push dead 63:00bodies that were on top of her, and we pulled her out. Her clothes were completely red. She had blood everywhere, in her nose, her ears, her eyes. She was covered everywhere, so we took her out, we washed her, took her out to the school, and up to this point she is alive.
Then, we moved back to school. At school, it was another home. At school, theycontinued to attack us, but they kind of gave us a break. That's probably because they thought they'd done a great job, so they took a small break. Probably a day or two days, they came back again very, very ready. Like we did 64:00at church, those who survived tried to defend us. I remember that time everybody had to participate at that point. Female, male, children, child or old, young--everybody [had to] participate. I remember we would get stones. I remember I used a wheelbarrow. I'd be pushing stones, taking to the frontline so they can--because we were fighting that time with stones. We didn't really have the weapons that are really strong, because we didn't get ready for it. The killers were ready because they got training ahead of time. For us, probably one 65:00machete left on your way out, a stick you used to use for your cows, so we were not ready. We fought them on several occasions trying to defend ourselves up to the point where we were like, We can't really do nothing.
The government used to have a helicopter that would come and cycle around ourcamp. They would go back, take a report, and say, "This is the number of Tutsis that needs to be killed. This is the number of people who were killed. This is how much work we need to do." As we were defending ourselves, the Kigali 66:00government, which is the Hutu government, learned that we are defending ourselves. They started to speculate that we might have RPF among us, so they came up with a plan to bring a soldier at night and put that soldier in a tree. We were sleeping in the classrooms. We woke up in the morning, and whoever have kids will probably go out for us so they can find food. We come out of the classrooms, and we hear bullets. You see the children falling down, old person 67:00falling down, young person, you know. It was like, Who's killing these people? People falling down all the time. You'd be walking the street, you'd be shot down. People started questioning themselves. All of a sudden, this guy, who is a hero in our neighborhood, his name is Mohuna Fidel(??)--I don't remember if I talk about him in the book. What's so funny, right now, I look at my book, I'm like, I left a lot of things behind. (laughs) He saw this soldier in the tree, and he had this traditional weapon we use. It's called--one they use to hunt--
SLOAN: Like a bow and arrow?
GASORE: Yes, a bow and arrow. He had one, and he basically gave up his life andsaid, "Okay. I've got to shoot him." He went under the tree. Several guys [had] 68:00tried, but [the soldier in the tree] shot them down because they were below him and he was on top. He was able to shoot them easily, but the last guy got him, so he fell down. When he fell down everyone wanted a piece of his clothes. You know, shoes or shoelace, anything you can get from him, you'll be very happy. "Oh, you killed a government person? Oh how?" So we felt very, very happy. Like I said, mature people really knew what was going to happen. Killing a government soldier? Wait. You're going to see what's going to happen. I was probably happy to get one of [the pieces of] his shirt because I wasn't anticipating what was going to happen.
After they killed him, the government learned that. They killed him about eight69:00in the morning. By 10:00, 10:30, 11:00 a.m., buses. I can look across the hill. I can see like ten buses. Those are big buses like Greyhound. Each bus had soldiers in it. You can see green inside [the] buses. Those are like soldiers, secret service, coming from the government, from the capital because they suspected that RPF is there. It is basically armies that are coming to fight army. That's what they thought. [The government] thought that [the survivors] had [an] army, so it came. I really can't really describe what happened at that time. The last memory I have is when I saw those soldiers. The other time I 70:00found myself it was raining. Everybody was running, trying to find a way to survive. We ran from that school. There was this long street that would go all the way to the bamboo bush. We just took off and ran. It was raining--it was wet, but bullets was also on top of it raining. You'd be running the streets and see a person falling here, person falling here, person falling here, and you really didn't have time to think about what was next.
SLOAN: So everybody scattered from the school?
GASORE: Yes. Then, we went. We left. Those who survived the rain of bullets went71:00all the way to the bamboo bush. That is probably our third stop. We got into the bamboo bush. Now the question is like, What is next?
SLOAN: Didn't you have an encounter with a female soldier--
SLOAN: --during that period?
GASORE: Yes. That was when we were fighting against the militia Interahamwe.When we were at the school defending ourselves, when I was pushing stones and taking them to the frontline where strong, mature people were defending ourselves, we had a female who was among the killers. This female had signs that 72:00said she was a newlywed and she wanted belongings for her wedding.
SLOAN: Wanted to take your group's belongings away.
GASORE: Belongings for the wedding. They shot her with a bow. When they shother, I have--there was a time that after everybody--well, after--we won, basically. We won that group. When we won, she left there not dead yet. I remember she--on--over here she had the arrow--is that arrow?
GASORE: She had it in her, here. I remember guys trying to--because you normally73:00won't leave your arrow in somebody because it means losing. I remember guys cutting her trying to get it out, just for the sake of getting it out. It wasn't for the sake of finishing her. It was for the sake of getting that arrow out. It's just the tradition of being, a mindset people have. If you leave your arrow in somebody, [it means] they can come back and defeat you or you lost the battle. She died there. Many people died that day because our guys were very dangerous, too. If you know you are going to be killed, you have nothing to lose. You step up and you defend yourself no matter what happens. So she died there. I remember passing her dead body fallen many days, because all the time 74:00we were running.
There is another story. I don't remember if I talk about it in the book, but Italk about the Twa tribe being used by Hutus. Twa is basically another tribe in my country that really nobody talks about. It's more like the minority. Tutsi? Yes, minority, but we don't talk about minority and majority. We talk about Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda because Twa really don't care about power. If you can give them food, that's it. They don't even need your clothes. They just need food.
SLOAN: Were there several Twa families in your--
GASORE: Not many. They lived in the jungle, so I don't even know where they75:00lived besides seeing them coming to sell some of the pots they made off of mats. Hutus, because they knew Twa can do anything as long as you give them food, used them to really do the work.
I remember when the Twa came to come and attack us. They passed by a house. Inthat house, the owner of the house, before he [became] afraid, was cooking meats. They smelled it, and they wanted to go get the food, because like I said, all they care about is food. They jumped over the fence and went to eat the food. Our guys saw them jumping over. Imagine if you see somebody who was coming 76:00to kill you. What are you going to do? Knowing that you have lost all your family, or it's only you who's still alive and you see a person who was coming. They really kill them really badly, two of those guys. I remember a rich person in my neighbor[hood] who came with his truck, and he had killers behind in the back of the truck. He came, and as he approached our camp at the school, he had some grenades--these stick grenades. I've never seen them here, but these are stick grenades, and he was trying to throw [one]. He didn't throw it in a good 77:00way and [it] came back and hit him, so he blasted. He didn't die right away but our guys just said, "Oh, thank God! You can't get away from us." We were defending us as much as we can. It's just that when you're fighting with the government, you really can't do much. So, at the school--we left the school and now we were in the bamboo bush. It's our safe haven.
SLOAN: Very good cover, right?
SLOAN: Protection. Yeah.
GASORE: It was very big, but I'll tell you, it became a street. After a while,all of us living there walking in it, it became like a street because we were stepping on those bamboos. Helicopter from the government would come every 5:00 78:00p.m. to check on who's still alive, how much they can do. There is one day before we were attacked by the government. On that day, when a lot of buses came full of soldiers, that is the day they attacked us. They were very strong, but maybe not that strong. I remember when we ran all the way to the bamboo bush, but we came back to the school again because it wasn't that bad. That's when I rolled over a hill and ended up in the bamboo bush and met a young lady that wanted me to hide her by putting her under the ground, putting grasses on top of 79:00her, and step on her. I talk about that in the book, too.
SLOAN: Yeah. Trying to hide her from--yeah.
GASORE: Yes. Yes. At that time, I was to the point where--because, when you wereon a hill, you can easily see down in the bamboo bush. You can even see a river, water that was going through, that was cutting through the bamboo bush. When I rolled over that hill, going down to the bamboo bush, my mind was, I need to go and kill myself in that water. I was about to just commit suicide in that water. I had all my clothes. I put [on] my pants first. I put [on] all my shorts [after the pants]. I probably had all my [clothes on]. You know, every time I had maybe 80:00good grades, my dad will buy me a [pair of] shorts or a pants and send it to the village. I was getting some good treatment. I had a lot of clothes, and I had to put all of them on me. After I rolled over, when I got in the bamboo bush, my clothes are already coming off. My shorts are here. The other short is right here. My pants is right here, so I can't even walk, and I can't get them off because I'm really--you know when you're young you are really like, How am I going to lose my shorts? I was like, I need to go and to kill myself. Period.
Some ants went in my clothes. Imagine if you have ants in your clothes. You81:00can't even move, and then you have ants everywhere biting. I was like, I need to find that river. That's God's plan because had I found it, I was going to put myself in there, but I couldn't find it. I would go this way, I can't find [it]. I could go this way, I can't find [it]. I could go this way, I can't find it. My uncle's wife was just behind me and they threw a grenade--no, no. They shot her over here. She was crying, screaming, calling me. I really don't even remember how we got out of that. After a while, it calmed down. We really tried to defend ourselves from the top of that hill. In the book, I talk about how they really defeated us because they had grenades, bullets. All that we had was just stones we can just throw [at] them.
I'm going to go back to the bamboo bush. We went to the bamboo bush. It became82:00our home again after the school. My uncle's wife, the one who got shot on the hill, was with me. She couldn't move. She had to stay outside the bamboo bush. When the killers came at night, we'd have to run into the bamboo bush. She couldn't, so she slept there. I had my other uncle's wife who couldn't move either because she had some type of tumor at the very beginning of the genocide, and it kept getting worse and worse. I had my cousin, Runyonga, who was, kind of like, out of it because she was beat in her head when we were at the school. 83:00She's out there. She's not moving. I had my--I haven't talked about my brother Simba. I think I kind of skipped that, but I'll come back to that. I had Simba over there. So, I had about four people from my family who are just lying there waiting for killers to come and just slaughter them. We had a Hutu worker who was watching our cows--who was taking care of our cows. I'm going to say that is God's grace because he got sick of malaria. When he got sick of malaria, at the very beginning, he moved with us. Instead of joining other Hutus, he came with us. At the very beginning, he got malaria, so he couldn't move either. He stayed with my family out by the bamboo bush. When the killers came and they saw him 84:00with them, he identified himself as a person who worked for them. [My family] treated him good, so [the killers] didn't touch them, but Simba--okay, I'm going to get to the Simba now.
SLOAN: Yeah. Please. Yeah.
GASORE: Simba was that person--he was my older brother, a person I looked up toand a very, very hard-working person. Every time, when we were at the bamboo bush, he was the person who would go out back to where we used to live, knowing 85:00that on his way, he can meet with killers any time. He would sneak and go get food for us. One day, like he was used to when we heard that killers were coming, he wanted to go back and hide where they've already been. He was not successful at that time. He'd done it for a while, from the very beginning of the genocide, even at the church. At this point, he just ran into them. When he ran into them, they attacked him like crazy because they knew him. They knew him. He was capable to fight them, and he had a traditional weapon; he had a sword. When they saw him, it was just like seeing a dog seeing. They attacked 86:00him, cut him everywhere. I knew he was able to defend himself. He might even have hurt some of them so bad. They left him in the bamboo bush in a pool of water, thinking that he was dead. He was like wounds everywhere. It's like those I just showed you, even worse than that. He was trapped there. My uncle really couldn't go there and help him.
I don't know if that was selfishness, but the only person who was able to go andsay, "I've got to go and check on him," was me. At that age, I was like, "I've got to go find him." I went and checked on him. He was very--he was very 87:00hopeful. I was desperate, but he was not as desperate as I was. That's how strong he was. He would look at me and I would look at him. I would be crying and he'd be like, "Serge, don't worry about me. Be strong. Take care of yourself." I look at him. I'm like, "I don't even understand what you're talking about." From that point, in my mind, I was like, You've been protecting us for this long, trying to get food for us. What can I do for you besides being by you? So, I started every day, I make sure he gets some food. I go ask people at the camp--bamboo bush now is our camp. I go there and I say, "Can I have extra? Can I have a potato?" People who were able to get some food, "Can I have a 88:00potato?" I would be hungry, but I would want him to eat, so I'd go get a potato here, get a casaba here, you know. Banana here, you know. Give it to him. Every time I was by him, he would encourage me. He'd say, "Serge, it's going to be okay." When somebody is talking about being okay, having the wounds here you can see easily see inside of his body, you can see maggots in his wounds everywhere, and he still say[s] that it's going to be okay.
So, I stay there. We stay there. Of course, on [a] daily basis was run, run,run. You know, they come at nine. Be ready to run. They killed probably half of your group. You come back next day. You're just like, When am I dying next? 89:00
SLOAN: You talked about it became fairly routine. At nine-o'clock it wouldstart. You would kind of run all day to try and make it to five, right?
GASORE: Five. It was like that for a while. At night, we had a house of a personwho used to live by the bamboo bush who was among us, so we would go sleep there. That was being desperate because the house was too small for anybody. It was just that we would go there. A lot of times, there would just us kids go there. We almost got burnt over there, too, because we tried to light a candle. We were sleeping on banana leaves, and they were dry. It was too many people sleeping on top of each other. We almost put the house on fire. I think that was 90:00the last time I slept there. So, we stayed there.
Of course, the gun we got from the soldier at the school, one of our guys hasit. The guy who used to drive the police car was a Tutsi. At that time, nobody knew how to use a gun besides the police or a soldier, those two people. Although we got that gun from the killers, it took us a while to find who is going to be responsible for the gun. Nobody knew how to use a gun. A gun was like a toy. By chance, the guy says, "Oh, I know how to use it." Because he was driving police, probably one of the police [officers] was very close to him and probably gave him a lesson. We say, "Hey. Here. Here's your toy." We gave him a 91:00gun, and of course, that soldier we killed had extra bullets. He had a big briefcase of bullets. So, he kept the gun. That even made it worse because every time he would use it, the government would be like, "Oh! Now RPF is there." They knew nobody had a gun; nobody knew how to use a gun. Now, they can hear a gun, so that even made the government put a lot of attention on to us. In the book, I talk about how he was discovered the one time with his gun--no, no, no--how they heard his gun and they came looking for him. They ran into one of my teachers. It was kind of funny because they ran into him and he had a machete. They said, 92:00"We're going to kill you." He said, "I'm going to kill you, too." He had a machete, they had a gun, and he survived. I don't know how he survived.
In the bamboo bush, we lived there. It was people who are alive and dead bodiesliving together. In the book, I talk about how one of my favorite teachers was killed in there, and I happened to sleep by him because you didn't have any other place to sleep. Whether it is smelly or is not smelly, you've got to find a place to put your head down for at least a few minutes. When I awake--because I remember he was sleeping, and then he was dead, and it was in the mud. I slept 93:00by him without knowing. When I woke up in the morning, I said, "Oh! Here is Rugerinyange, my teacher." We lived our life. I remember when this woman come across me and said, "Oh! Young boy, that's my husband. He was killed and he had some money in his pocket--his pants sleeve." I had to roll it over, pull the money, and give it to her. She asked me, and like I said, we were numb, so we don't have feeling. I just open it. [I ask] "Where is it?" [She says], "It's there." I get it, give it to her, but money was like paper, because what would 94:00you use it for? You can't buy anything, so it was just being naïve. We lived there, and it got to the point where, all that time we were living in the bamboo bush, we can hear guns, heavy guns. At that time, RPF was making progress and was basically winning over the killers--the government--the killing government.
SLOAN: Up into this time you hadn't had any contact or news about the RPF?
GASORE: No, we have no idea what's going on whatsoever. But some of those matureguys did. They were like--they would always give us morale saying, "Oh! RPF will be here soon. RPF will be here soon, now." I'm ready to be dead at any time. 95:00
Let me go back before I finish to talk about my uncle I talk about, who waskilled and who was attacked several times, and they would cut his parts. My uncle, Athanase, was a very hard-working person, a person to look up to. When we were at the school, he used to do like his son used to do. He used to go where people have killed and hide. He didn't start doing that until he was shot on his hip. He couldn't move no more. He couldn't move as much as we were moving, so he had to go back where they attacked, hoping that they would just pass him. If 96:00they knew that they have already finished Fort Worth, they won't come. They would just pass Fort Worth, go through Fort Worth, because they know they've already done their job. Then they would come to Dallas. He did that, going back where they've been, hoping that he can survive that way. [It] got to the point where they found him. They discovered him.
What they did was like what they did to Jesus. They cut him--his mouth. Todaythey would come and cut his mouth. Tomorrow they will come and cut his ear. They knew where he was, so it would be on their way to come find us. They would stop there and do something to him until he was finally gone. Last time, they cut him--his jaw--separate both sides. By that time, both [of his] arms were gone. 97:00They cut him in pieces for several days. All we can do is to come and check on him. You can't move him because he is basically dead and you can't finish him; you can't kill your person, so we were out of options. "We will come and check on you like your kids, but we can do nothing." When we talk to him, he's very hopeful: "My kids, be strong. Be example out there." We were like, "I don't think you know what you're talking about." He got to where he was finished. We came and buried him. We continue. It got to the point where we were like, It's you now; it's probably me next minute.
I have [Aunt] Agnes and her husband, they also died like that. Agnes's husband98:00was shot during the battle. When he was shot during the battle, his wife, instead of running with us, wanted to hide with her husband. They went back like the trick my uncle was using and the one Simba was using. They wanted go back and hide where the killers have been, and [the killers] discovered them. When [the killers] discovered [Agnes and her husband,] they tortured them and let them go. [Agnes and her husband] lived with us. They ran with us for several days, wounded. Again they say, "Oh! Let's go again and try to hide where they've been." They discovered them. That's when they killed them and finished them. We moved to--let me go back to the bamboo bush. On several occasions, we run every 99:00day, every day. Helicopter comes in every day to see how many numbers, to do inventory on us.
Then, RPF finally won over. They came all the way from Uganda, went to UmutaraProvince, all the way to Kigali, Kigali to Bugesera. It's like coming from Washington across the--from the north to the bottom. They've already, you know--and they come to us. We hear people saying, Oh, RPF is very close. RPF is very close. We're like, No, no, no. You're trying to be very naïve. They can't. How would they make it here? Some people [say], No. They're coming. They are coming. I'm like--you know. Then, all of a sudden, we heard a voice of an old 100:00woman coming down saying, "Oh! I saw my son. My son is here, and my son had joined the RPF a while back." People were like, Stop trying to fool us, because it sounds like probably the government gave you [a] bribe, and you want us to go so they can trap us and kill us. We could get trapped and be killed. Some of us, especially me, was like, Hey, let's go. We just ran toward the direction the lady was coming from, because her son had come and found her on a bed. She was like this old woman who can't really move. When her son came and said, "Hey, 101:00Mom. I know you're suffering. I know, but you've got to go find your people and tell them we're here." They didn't want to come down because they didn't know what is around.
We ran. As we ran over, we found one of our persons. He wasn't like a person. Hewas like a--he was like--you know--you wouldn't describe him--this is a person who had been fighting so hard to get to his people. He said, "Okay, now the plan is you keep going and send some other people to go back and bring people." Me, I was like, "I've got to go." We kept going, and they were pointing us to the capital city of my district. We moved there. I remember some guys who were with 102:00us had some machete, traditional weapons. We got to where those RPF soldiers had [dug trenches]. They were in trenches. As we're walking the street, they would just put their heads up and say, Hey, keep going. You look for who's telling you to keep going. Then some of our guys had traditional weapons they kept. They wanted to hold on to them. As they passed, those guys in the holes were like, Leave your weapon there and keep going. Our guys would be like, Who's telling me to leave my weapon I've been using to defend myself all along? They'd be like, It's us, RPF. You put it down or we kill you. The reason why they wanted us to put the weapons down, [is because] they didn't some killers to hide among us and 103:00then, when we get there, they come back and kill us. That was a strategic plan. They said, "Drop it." Some guys tried to resist, and they tied them up, say, Hey, you can't resist. You've got to go. So, we went to the city.
I got into the city. My mind couldn't just be stable. I was like, I've got to goback to save Simba, because Simba was still lying down. Runyonga had died prior to the arrival of RPF. My whole reason I had to go back was Simba. Simba died, like, at the last minute, when RPF reached the bamboo. 104:00
As we were going this way, RPF was coming this way. Some of the RPF guys werestationed on the way, in the middle between the city and the village. Some were coming this way. That was a strategic way of how they fought. As soon as the last RPF person said hello to Simba, Simba died. Simba was the person who really wanted to see RPF. In the book, I talk about how he used to sneak and go visit RPF where they were camped in one of the provinces. When they were rebels, they were camping in the north part of Rwanda, and Simba would sneak on his way to school, because he was in the boarding school. On his way instead of going to 105:00school, he would go visit them, because my uncle was among RPF. He really wanted to see RPF. As soon as he said hello to [the] RPF person, he just died. We buried him, and we moved to Nyamata. Nyamata was the city and over there. It was chaos. We are with happiness, but we have a lot of wounded people. We had all kind of disease, all the kinds of sicknesses like malaria, cholera, pneumonia, malnutrition, you name it--all kind of sickness you find in any kind of refugee camp. Some people would get diarrhea in the morning, and at ten, we bury them. 106:00Some people get diarrhea, and about four hours later, we bury them. It was like, even if we survived, and not many people survived, we still have another battle to fight. RPF was there to try to provide us anything they can give us: clothes, shelter--but I remember, I slept outside for a while.
SLOAN: Yeah, they're very undersupplied. I mean they don't have a lot to give you.
GASORE: Yes, and us survivors were trying to get into stores to find stuff. Someof our guys died just because they went into a store that had gasoline in it. They light up, and they would catch fire, and they would die there. I, myself, I 107:00was in one. I was with another guy trying to find the candies--I was all about candies, and this guy used a lighter. The store catches fire, so we had to go through the window. We were going through so much at once. All of a sudden, RPF restored peace, and then it had to be a question of who is responsible, who is the father, who is the son, because most of the fathers are gone. Women who are alive are raped, or they are in the hospital because they are wounded, or they're sick. They have diarrhea, malaria, all kinds of illnesses. It was a surviving moment that didn't really have a description. 108:00
SLOAN: I'm sure there's some vengeance happening, too.
GASORE: Yes, vengeance. RPF, especially soldiers, were very, very angry becauseall the way from the border to the other border all they had to see is dead bodies of their family members, of their people, especially the people they know that died when they were innocent. They were killed because of the way they were born, a way that they didn't choose to. Anger was everywhere. It was a battle for a while.
SLOAN: One of the stories that you tell is getting to take a shower, or getting109:00to clean yourself, for the first time after not having a shower or a change of clothes for--
MELISSA SLOAN: A hundred days, I think.
SLOAN: Yeah. A hundred days.
GASORE: I can't really forget that shower. My first shower was--water was veryscary, first. I took a shower. When I moved to Kigali with my boss, we got into Kigali and he's like, "Here's a shower. We've got a shower." I'm like--and the shower water was cold. Do I talk about it in the book?
SLOAN: Yeah. You talk about the lice.
GASORE: Oh yes. The lice. Oh. I had lice to where I could easily take hold of110:00them and just throw them. I could get my [hand] full of them, and that was normal. Everybody had that. No washing your clothes for a hundred days.
SLOAN: I would imagine there's a period right after this where you are justtrying to find all your family and figure out where everyone is.
GASORE: Yes. I am one of those persons who really didn't stick with the familyall the time. I was all the time finding a way to survive, but at the same time trying to take care of my people who were desperate. Like my brother, I knew that was my responsibility to take care of him. While my family members or relatives were like, Where do I need to go hide? My mind was like, How can I go 111:00find food for Simba? All the time, when I was hiding, my mind was like, I've got to go check on Simba first. When it's done, then I'll run.
SLOAN: Do you remember when you had your first good night's sleep again, I mean,where you actually got to rest, where you felt like you began to recover some of your strength?
GASORE: You know, when we were in Nyamata, we had my uncle and my uncle's wife,the one that had a tumor, the one who was shot that was still alive--those two 112:00and my brother. I forgot one of my brothers, Eric. He had a wound on his leg. He was in the hospital. Those three are in the hospital. Every single day, my other uncle, the one who had a wife who was shot in the leg, had to get a job at a hospital to cook, so he can take care of his wife and our family members. All of sudden, he got diarrhea as well. When he got diarrhea, it was up to me and his son to take care of him. It was like we were living in the same situation, until when I moved to Kigali with a soldier. When we got there, I had to shower. After 113:00I shower, they gave me good clothes--new clothes. When I slept that night, I think I felt good because I had new clothes, I took shower, I had tea with sugar in it. You know that was--in fact, I had tea with sugar before I had left Nyamata city, our first stop after the genocide. I had tasted on sugar before, but when I got to Kigali, hot shower, had good clothes, very warm clothes, had a tea again, slept in a very good house in the capital city of Kigali--oh, that was wonderful. Knowing that the killers had left the country, now everything 114:00that is in the country would be given to people instead of killers, so that made me even happier.
SLOAN: I know you have a very colorful story after that, and a lot of that wewon't be able to get into today. You have a very good memory, but I just can't imagine at your age being exposed to all the things that you were exposed to, incident after incident after incident. What are the things that kind of stand out to you, or really stay with you, or when you think about it, come back to you about it?
ROBERTS: Can we pause for a second and maybe switch disks? We're running out of115:00time. We have three minutes left.
SLOAN: Okay sure.
ROBERTS: I don't want to have to stop it in the middle of an answer.
SLOAN: We'll pick up with that question in just a second. Let me stop this right quick.
pause in recording
SLOAN: All right. We're picking up again, and I want to make the note that Ididn't say earlier that also on our project team we have, Dr. Melissa Sloan is here and Nathan Roberts is here as well with us. I want to pick up on that question I asked you. I know you've thought about it a lot and you've told your story a lot. Maybe even not when you're telling your story, the things that come back to you from it that really stand out to you. 116:00
GASORE: Things that stand out to me. There are not many, but one thing is thatthose dead bodies come in my mind very often, and that raises a lot of questions. Instead of being traumatized by that, it raises a lot of questions in my mind. I won't say those questions are bad though because it raises questions. Like, who are we? Why do you treat another person like that? It takes me back. First of all, it makes me want to keep going. Secondly, it makes me wonder what 117:00kind of people were that, at that time. Was evil among us? Was it a lack of education? Was that in our nature? I put all those things together.
I come back, and I make a conclusion of saying it was a lack of education. Witheducation you really won't see anything beneficial in killing a person, because when you're educated, you know that a person next to you deserves the same rights as you deserve. When you're educated, you see that the killing government 118:00was able to kill that many people because they were the masterminds of the genocide. Because the small people didn't have education [the killing government] was able to accomplish that. Also, that raises the question how can you be educated, and you are the president or the minister, and you still think that you're going to kill people? Lack of education is one of them, but also, science without conscience is nothing. Learning in the school without moral education is really nothing important.
SLOAN: This leads to my next question, because several times you talk aboutprovidence or God directing things. I'm wondering, earlier you talked about 119:00church as just something you went to. I know your faith story goes on from there and becomes something very different for you. How do you think about that, as you think about that experience and you think about your beliefs? How do those relate?
GASORE: It doesn't really connect much because my faith tells me that when youare going through something, instead of coming to you and saying, "Hey, God is testing you," or "That happened because of God," I feel like I just need to join 120:00and be with you. People in Rwanda, we are used to good preaching, good scriptures. We are used to that. We probably can have--people can quote a Bible like this but can't really practice the scriptures.
To me, my faith is very different than many people. I'm that person that says,"You do it. Don't say it. Just do it." Let me answer your question, I think, in a better way. I've lost faith in people, and I don't trust people very much. I 121:00just want people to do it, and then, I see it. Then, I interpret [for] myself. So I don't like when people come to me and they say, "Oh, I'm a nice person. I've done this, and then this, and this." No, because it takes me a while to trust a person. My wife can probably tell you this better because there are so many things that happen and she's like, "You need to change." (laughs) I'm like, "I understand."
But, it's just what happened to me, you know, because when you see yourneighbor, you ate together, you went to a party together, it's like your 122:00neighbor was connected to you more than your father and your mother, but your neighbor comes back and kills you? How are you going to trust anybody? I'm always like this way. You do what you want to do. If that changes the world, good job. If what you're doing is not changing people in a good way, then keep [away]. No. I don't know if I'm explaining that--
SLOAN: No. You are, you are. The other thing that you learn through your storyis that it's in you to help other people. I think of you there, and you're caring for the people that you were caring for and even your relationship with 123:00Simba during that period where you were caring for him. I know that has affected who you are now and how you want to make a difference. So could you talk a little bit about that?
GASORE: Right. I tend not to seem like a person who cares about my close people.I always do that based on my experience because I saw a government leaving its people behind. No, no. I saw a government abusing its own people. That's why I always feel like I need to get out there, get to those people who are not connected, and take care of them. I'll give you an example. At my work, I've told all my coworkers, my fellow managers, I said, "Please, if we're talking and 124:00you don't think I care, it's not that I don't care. I care about my employees more than I care about you. You are a fellow manager. I want to protect them." When managers are coming saying, "Write him up. Let's get him out," [I say], "No. Wait, wait. You are there to back [your employees] up. You are there to care for them. You are there to make them better people." It made me--I have a heart for people. Really, people don't see where it comes from. I know my father made a comment--maybe we're not going to say this one. (laughs) My father made a comment saying, "Oh, how [can] Serge build a house for children and he doesn't have his own house?" I was like, "If you had to go through what I had to go 125:00through, you'd probably build one. You'd probably build ten--ten for kids."
SLOAN: That's great. That's about your foundation [Rwanda Children] that youhave. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
GASORE: The foundation, so when I came in America, you know, I was an athlete.All I thought about was being [an] athlete, being [an] academic person, and just take care of myself. As I continued to reflect on my story, my experiences, those dead bodies that keeps coming in my mind, I'm like, I've got to do something better than that person who killed those people. I've got to do better than other people who just care about themselves. I said, "I need to help kids, 126:00especially kids who lived the type of life I lived." At that time, I couldn't see any type of income I could have to help many kids. Being in America or having the type of education I have maybe somehow, some way, I can help. I initiated some type of a foundation that was kind of like me--foundation me. I told that to my wife because my wife and I pretty much had to go through the same thing, where she survived the genocide from [the] Congo, as well. Her mom 127:00was killed in a refugee camp in Burundi after USA brought them in here.
We've always talked about being a positive influence, looking back and not justsitting down and relax. We got to the point where we were like, "You know, you work part time." She was working part time, twenty hours, as a student, minimum wage, seven and a half dollars. Same with me. I was doing school and I was working part time--international student making minimum wage, twenty hours a week, saying, "We keep saying we're going to help kids, but we don't make any move." We identified a program in Rwanda, it's called a mutual fund schema, where everybody has to pay insurance. Insurance is in [the] federal law. At that 128:00time, every person was paying two dollars for insurance for a whole year. That includes medical bills, hospital, shots, whatever. So I was like, "Two dollars? How often do you tip two dollars? How often do you go McDonald's and get french fries? We can pay probably seventy-five each one of us and pay insurance for many kids."
So we were in our house watching the TV and we came up with that idea. We paidabout 130-something kids for insurance. We were very encouraged, getting e-mails from kids in Rwanda or people in Rwanda saying, Oh, what you are doing is great! 129:00I continued to share that with people. I have a person I used to go to church with, and he became more like a father, and I shared that with him. His name is Vann Conwell. Right now, he's the president of the foundation. I shared that with him. He was like, "Oh no, you can't just keep things like that to yourself. Let's share that with people at church." We shared that with people at church and they're like, Oh, we want to participate. So next time we had about one thousand children covered with insurance. I kept doing it, me and my wife, with a small group. People were like, You can do more. We're behind you.
I started thinking, I'm limiting God. I'm just limiting God to what he can do.130:00In the summer, at the end, I sat down with my wife and said, "What can we do? People are behind us, but if they are behind us, that means they can be doing what we were doing. Then, we can grab another task." Maybe they can continue to take care of insurance and then me and my wife can grab another task to help the people. We said we're going to build a house for children, so my wife and I scheduled to go to the bank and get a loan of [$]8,000. A house cost [$]10,000 or [$]15,000, at that time. We said, "We're going to go get a loan. We're going to build it. When we get to where we need [$]2,000 more, we can probably have that time saved, or we can get another loan."
As we were doing that, a friend of ours came and said, "I need to join." We131:00build the house, and after that, we say, "Let's put our first children in it." We put in four children. After we put four children, the mayor, through a friend of mine, a person that I know, reached out to me and said, "We have these kids that are living in the street." The one I was describing to you earlier today, [he asked], "Could you do something for them?" I said, "Sure. It can't be too small, not to have kids who are living on the street." We put those kids in it. The friend of mine, my adoptive parents, they came to Rwanda. They saw it. They saw how kids got changed. Kids who were this close to dying got changed. They 132:00were like, We've got to be behind this, because when we put those kids in the house they were there, and kids were about to die. They say, Can we do more? I said, "My wife and I can only do what we can. I'm not going to say you join us. If you want, you join us, but we're only going to take care of these six kids because that's what we can afford." They said, "No, no, no. We can do more." They opened up. That's when they formed a board for the foundation. The board said, "We need to build more houses. Right now, they are in the process of building ten more houses."
SLOAN: How many kids will that--
GASORE: Probably seventy-three or eighty-five.
GASORE: They're also talking about maybe having a clinic, a school, all that.133:00I'll be lying to you that I spend even a minute thinking about it. I just say if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. If it's not going to happen, you know.
SLOAN: That's amazing.
GASORE: Yep, and that keeps me going, too. Sometimes, when I go to work, my bossis probably not happy about my performance. My wife, I go home, she's mad for some reason. My kids are angry because I'm away from them. I meet people in the street, they are mean [to] me. I still keep going because I know, for some reason, I'm doing something for somebody who would not be alive.
SLOAN: That's great. The other members of our project team may want to ask you134:00some questions.
ROBERTS: I have, I guess, one question. People that have read your book, metyou, heard your story, and are touched by it, what do you want them to do?
GASORE: They want to--what--
ROBERTS: I mean, having heard your story, what would you like them to do? Whatcan they do?
GASORE: One thing I want them to do is to speak up for innocent people thatcontinue to die--to be killed. You find out that those people being killed are in small countries. We know that in Mexico people are being killed because of drugs. Sometimes you can't really do much about it. Of course, you can at some 135:00point, but when you know that a country is killing its own people, and there is something we call United Nations that should be doing something in their power and it's not happening, that raises a question of ignorance. If those people can go and rescue those countries--of course, each country's got to have independence, freedom of choice, things like that, but I don't think they've got to have a choice of killing people. If that happens, can you just--can we all get together and say enough is enough, because at the end of the day we are all human beings. If they can, speak up for stopping genocide--genocide never 136:00again--and not just focus on themselves, because if I'm doing things for kids, I couldn't be doing things for myself. You are in this position. Whether you are in this position since you was born or this is some blessings you got from God, can you share those blessings with other people? That's basically what I want people to get from my book.
SLOAN: That's definitely the spirit within which this project was done. Iappreciate you sharing that. Now, before we end, I want to make sure that if there's anything else that you would like to make sure you share that we didn't touch on--
GASORE: Uh--no. There is a lot.
SLOAN: Yes, I understand.
GASORE: There is a lot. I talk about in the book how I came in America. Some137:00people think that I take life so hard. Some people say that I think like a fifty-years-old person, when I'm not, and that's because of life experience I had to go through. When you raise yourself from seven years old and you get to this point, there's a lot, but you are welcome to ask me questions. You can call me, e-mail me, if you think about anything I didn't cover and I covered in the book and you think it would be beneficial for your project. When I got your e-mail, I was like, This is kind of strange, you know? (Sloan laughs) Then, I 138:00was like, Why would I need to do this? Then I was like, You never know because you've got to take advantage of every opportunity, because who knows who is going to hear my story.
SLOAN: Well, I appreciate you sharing it as part of that education you saidthat's so important. People need to know and understand.
GASORE: Right. If I can change one person for these two hours I've spent here,it's worth it. It's worth it.
SLOAN: Thank you, again.
GASORE: No problem. No problem.
end of interview