A Catholic missionary is among 20 'Silent Heroes' honored for courageously rescuing Tutsis that were being hunted down by machete-wielding militiamen during the 1994 genocide.
Father Mario Falconi, who was a parish priest in eastern Rwanda, saved more than 3,000 Tutsis by hiding them in his church during the massacres, the state-owned Times newspaper reported. He refused to be evacuated to Italy because he wanted to remain near the people he had served for so long.
This is the second time that Fr Mario will be honoured for this humanitarian act. He also received an award in April from Ibuka, an umbrella organization of Genocide survivors.
According to Dorah Urujeni, an official with 'Memos-Learning from History' other ‘Silent Heroes’ include eight women and 12 men.
Anna Mukarurinda lost her husband Joseph Mugabo sometime last year. The couple saved nine Tutsis during the mayhem. "My husband brought people home when the killings started; we hid them in all possible corners of the house," she said.
Another rescuer, Marcel Barihabwa, saved five people. "My trick was to relocate them every night, until I traced an escape route through to the Democratic Republic of Congo and I made sure they arrived there safely," he said.
Gabriel Habiyambere was among the survivors saved by Barihabwa, and according to him, he was initially prompted to go to his neighbor's house in such of food.
"He was a friend and I decided to go to his house just to get food, but when I got there, he insisted that he wanted to make sure that I survive and decided to hide me," said Habiyambere.
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