Genocide Survivor Uses Sport to Foster Peace in Rwanda | IDSDP 2016

Genocide Survivor Uses Sport to Foster Peace in Rwanda | IDSDP 2016


In 1994 nearly a million people perished in the Rwandan genocide 6 men, women and children were murdered every minute of every hour of every day for 100 days Genocide is the worst experience any human can go through. Neighbours were killing neighbours, in some cases some members of the same family. Seeing someone you’ve grown up with, killing your friends, your relatives and wanting to kill you. I lost more than 35 family members but also I lost a young brother who was just 7 years at the time. Ever since I was a young boy football taught me how to live with people and more importantly football saved my life during the genocide in 1994 My teammates did what many Rwandans failed to do. They hid me in the house for a number of weeks. If it wasn’t down to them I don’t think I would be here today. The reason why my teammates helped me was down to their sportsman spirits. If more people in this country had a sportsman spirit, definitely fewer people would have been killed. Moderate Hutus and Tutsi sympathisers were targeted as well as Tutsis The teammates that saved Eric’s life paid the ultimate price for their courage I set up Football for Hope, Peace and Unity or FHPU back in 2010. FHPU was a result of everything that has happened to me. I wanted to make sure that the important lessons that I’ve learned from sport would be passed over to young generations. Myself and colleagues got together and decided to set up something to play a part in the rebuilding of this nation. So Dream Team Academy was born. The Dream Team Football Academy motto is to develop champions in football and champions in life. We do this programme for the benefit of our kids, to be healthy, to learn life skills. At the same time to bring the community together for different purposes, including peace. Together we give them a very positive pathway of their development. Sport gives me goals it gives me discipline. Sport is important in society because it brings unity and unity is the foundation of society. Sport can bring unity because if you see those children work together regardless of their ethnic groups or membership in society, sports is a special pillar for the unity and reconciliation of Rwandans. We started reaching out to other organisations and today we have more than 15 organisations that we work with throughout the country. Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, which is a centre for underprivileged young Rwandan’s. Originally it was set up to educate the orphans of genocide. I really want to improve the life of the youth here in Agahozo. Sport is one tool that helps us to make them feel happy, feel at home and also to make them build a future. Football, sport in general can act as a tool to bring peace unity and reconciliation not only in Rwanda, elsewhere in the world. Another place where we have partners its in Rubavu area. It was known as an area where most extremist people came from. It’s important to be a role model before you can create one. If you want to change young peoples lives it has to start with those who are passing over those skills, that education. FHPU’s coaching coaches’ programme is very important for me because it teaches us how to coach using better skills. It’s through their coaching course where I learn how to use sport and football in particular to make a social impact. The skills I learn is what I take back to my team and into my community to improve my players. Rwandans understand the meaning of peace more than anyone. Sport has a power to bring development and peace, to educate and empower in the strongest way that you can imagine. My teammates if they were here today I believe they would totally agree with what I’m doing. It’s something that I learned from them. It’s like carrying the legacy that they left for me. TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

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