It’s been twenty years since the genocide in Rwanda that set Tutsi against Hutu and killed thousands. Since then, Rwanda has been working hard towards reconciliation, both on a personal and national level.
One group in particular–Association Modeste et Innocente– has been giving classes about what reconciliation and restitution means. This work has been chronicled on an individual level by the photographer Pieter Hugo, who took portraits of each survivor and the perpetrator she forgave.
In interviews conducted by AMI and Creative Court for the project, the subjects spoke of the pardoning process as an important step toward improving their lives. “These people can’t go anywhere else — they have to make peace,” Hugo explained. “Forgiveness is not born out of some airy-fairy sense of benevolence. It’s more out of a survival instinct.” Yet the practical necessity of reconciliation does not detract from the emotional strength required of these Rwandans to forge it — or to be photographed, for that matter, side by side.
The pictures and stories will hang in an exhibit at The Hague to mark the end of the Rwandan genocide, and then will return to Rwanda and travel around the country to further the work of reconciliation.
To see the pictures and read the stories (which are very moving) go here.