Over 1000 Adopted Rwandan Children Seek Their Roots

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By Godfrey Ntagungira

More than 1,000 Rwandan children that were adopted in Europe during the wake of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are now seeking information about their Rwandan heritage.

The children, many of whom come from poor Rwandan families from across the country, were taken to Europe in 1993 and 1994 and adopted by families in France, Belgium, Italy, and a few in the USA. Of these children, some were orphans, and others were sent to Europe by their parents, hoping to give their children better lives.

David Malkovich, a Rwandan adopted by a family in Paris, said searching for his roots has been challenging, in part because of criticism from friends, who ask why he would want to learn about his roots when he has a good life already.

“As adoptees, we are often asking ourselves, ‘Who am I? Where did I come from?” he said. “Adoptees have this intense curiosity about their biological parents, and that’s why we contacted the Rwandan embassy and they are committed to help us.”

“The common question among us is to know about our roots, about our families, and whether we have our mom’s hands or our father’s eyes,” Malkovich said.

In 2008 a dozen of the parents from Nyagatare district, Eastern Province asked the government to repatriate their children, to no avail.

After several years a group of Rwandan adoptees in France started connecting with other adoptees through social media.

In 2013 the three of the adoptees started an organization called ‘Adoptée du Rwanda’ to connect Rwandans adopted across Europe. The majority of the children are said to live in France.

“We are trying to connect the dots (about our families),” said Malkovich. “We believe that the campaign will be successful despite the many questions that still linger at the back of our minds.”

Some of the children in question were formerly sheltered at St. Agathe Orphanage Centre, which was located in the Kigali suburb of Masaka and funded by Agathe Kanziga, the wife of Rwanda’s former head of state, Juvenal Habyarimana.

According to the August 2008 the Mucyo Commission -the national independent commission which was charged with gathering evidence to show the implication of the French government in the 1994 Tutsi genocide stated that the St. Agathe Orphanage Centre leadership was motivated by political ideology of the time.

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