Despite the physical and psychological injuries that they suffered when a militia group attacked Nyange Secondary School 20 years ago, survivors continue to soldier on and are leading better lives.
This was observed, yesterday, as the survivors of the attack on the school based in Ngororero District, all heroes under the Imena category, reminisced the events during the night of March 18, 1997, in which six of their colleagues were killed.
The students were attacked by militia that had infiltrated the country from the DR Congo, and are celebrated for their courage to defy the attackers by refusing to separate themselves along ethnic lines.
The commemoration event, complete with a Mass, was organised by the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honour (CHENO).
Angelique Nkunduwera, one of 40 survivors who were severely wounded, continues to strive for self and national development.
"When they attacked us during the evening, they asked us to separate ourselves as Hutu and Tutsi but because we already knew the history and effects of the Genocide, we stood our ground and told them that we were all Rwandans," she said.
Nkunduwera had to traverse different hospitals such as Kabgayi, Central University Teaching Hospital of Kigali before she was transferred to Gatagara Centre.
She completed high school with difficulty and later got a teaching job in which she has been engaged since 2000.
"I have never regretted the stand that we took that night and I remain hopeful and committed to develop my country," Nkunduwera said, adding that her dream is to complete university studies.
The survivors of the attack have since grouped themselves into an association called, Komez'ubutwari.
The president of the association, Samuel Sindayiheba, said they are engaged in different activities geared toward promoting unity and reconciliation and that they are working with different schools.
He was also severely injured during the attacks but his life improved after he went back to school, completed university with a master's degree and currently has a job.
The commemoration Mass was celebrated by Bishop Anaclet Mwumvaneza, who extoled the courage by the students.
"The victims chose love and the Rwandan spirit when they vowed to remain united even at gunpoint. Such love mirrors that of Jesus Christ, who advocated for unity of the world," he said.
CHENO chairperson Pierre Damien Habumuremyi urged schools to mainstream Rwandan values in education.
"Educators at all levels should step up efforts in providing an education that spread values of unity among Rwandans. We have great opportunity of good leadership with a focused vision," he said.
Habumuremyi pledged advocacy to ensure the survivors who still need to further their education to do so.