Baylor University Institute for Oral History

Valentine Iribagiza

Baylor University Institute for Oral History
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1:08 - Early memories in Rwanda

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Subjects: Going to Mass with her family, farming, milking cows, Catholic Church, joining the Assembly of God Church

6:56 - Sensing something is wrong

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Subjects: Hutu and Tutsi, Nyarubuye, Tanzania, radio, friends with neighbors


Hyperlink: Hutu and the Tutsi
10:41 - Congregating at the church

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Subjects: 1959 war in Rwanda, separation from her family, remaining with her father and her younger brother


Hyperlink: War in Rwanda in 1959
16:08 - Attack on the church

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Keywords: "When you kill a snake you smash its head."

Subjects: using machetes for mass killings at the church, death of her father, cut on her head, makeshift club with nails, torture for information


Hyperlink: Valentine's experience in the church
23:39 - Aftermath of the massacre

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Keywords: "I was just waiting to die."

Subjects: Finding her entire family dead except her sister, pretending to be dead, wild dogs coming to eat the bodies

27:10 - Being taken to the hospital

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Subjects: Visitation by Hutu neighbors, soldiers and Frenchmen come to retrieve her and take her to a hospital, recovering from shock, spending seven months in the hospital, cutting off part of her hand

32:21 - Transfer to an orphanage

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Subjects: children in wheelchairs, caretaker at the orphanage was a Hutu

35:18 - Going back to school

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Keywords: "At that time I feel like I don't have any life."

Subjects: difficulty using her non-damaged hand, feeling the absence of her family, Christians coming to pray for her and giving gifts

38:43 - Reuniting with her Aunt

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Subjects: finding her brother, new government, aunt is severely traumatized, second genocide

46:40 - Surviving for 43 days in the church

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Subjects: lack of desire to eat leading to starvation

48:09 - Anger

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Subjects: People praying over her, surrounding herself with friends, refugees coming back home from other country, headaches, alcohol

51:44 - Arranging to leave Rwanda

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Subjects: Uncle was in Kenya conducting business, people from Vermont come to Rwanda national museum and they help Valentine come to the U.S., learning English, University of New Hampshire, English as a second language

57:14 - Struggling to help her brother 59:05 - Returning to Rwanda

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Subjects: Desire to not return to her village but only the city, others in her village that survived, rape and killing of her sister

62:16 - Determining where strength comes from

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Subjects: Willingness to talk about the genocide when not in Rwanda, openness, being nice to yourself and to others, setting goals for herself

65:44 - Forgiveness and Reconciliation 70:30 - Telling children about the genocide

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Segment Synopsis: child clapping like her mother who has no fingers

75:03 - Beginning to have hope again

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Subjects: extended family adopting her in 1999, watching her brother growing

79:19 - Concluding thoughts

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Subjects: peace in the home, love, teaching children