February Hero: Consolee Nishimwe
Posted on 18 February 2014
Consolee Nishimwe is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against Tutsis, and her story isn’t anything short of a miracle. At the young age of 14, she suffered three months of physical torture and emotional wounds as her Tutsi family went into hiding. After living through the mental hurdles of losing family members and struggling with her faith, Consolee miraculously survived with her mother and younger sister.
Like other genocide survivors, Consolee’s journey to reconciliation wasn’t easy. But overtime, Consolee discarded vengeful thoughts and burdens of the past to triumph through the tragedy. She now resides in NYC and has become an inspirational role model for other female genocide survivors.
What makes Consolee Nishimwe a hero of the Rwandan Genocide?
Consolee’s story is one of a quarter-million women who were raped, of which 70% contracted HIV/AIDS. They were left as widows, single mothers, and orphaned teenage girls. Consolee lived through the horrors of the genocide, yet found courage and hope to live on. Moving speaker, global women’s rights advocate, and author of “Tested to the Limit: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Pain, Resilience, Hope”, Consolee continues to share her story of remembrance and reconciliation to prevent future atrocities.
When the Rwandan Genocide began, Consolee Nishimwe was only 14 years old. Not fully understanding why the war was happening, her extended family fled for safety as Tutsi homes were hunted and burnt down by Hutus.
The ethnic Hutus intended to murder every Tutsi they encountered, often killing males immediately, while keeping females alive temporarily as weapons of war. For three months, Consolee and her family hid in bushes and sought shelter from old friends who ended up turning their backs. One by one her family members were savagely murdered as Hutus discovered them.
Consolee and her remaining family members sought refuge in different homes after losing her aunt, father, and three younger brothers. Unfortunately, while at one of those homes a Hutu neighbor known to her family beat and raped her, leaving her HIV+. Through these traumatic incidents, she didn’t lose faith. She continued hiding in different places with her mother and younger sister until a good samaritan in the Muslim community took them in for the remainder of the genocide.
Watch Consolee Nishimwe’s speech at the UN: ‘Engaging Religions in the Prevention of Atrocity Crimes – World Interfaith Harmony Week’
Official website: www.consolee.com
Purchase Consolee’s book: Tested to the Limit