By Shania Degroot, New York Amsterdam News, July 8, 2021
Consolee Nishimwe, 41, lives in New York City and devotes much of her time to advocating for women’s rights as well as helping the people who have survived genocide-related trauma. Nishimwe, a Rwandan genocide survivor, recalls much of her current work being influenced by the trauma she experienced during her childhood in Rwanda.
Consolee grew up in Rwanda, where both of her parents worked as teachers. Prior to 1994, she was raised with her younger siblings, one sister and three brothers. Rwanda’s genocide against the Tutsis broke out on April 7, 1994, between the country’s two ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsi. During this time Tutsis, who had been targeted by the Hutus, fled their homes in search of a safe haven.
During the time that her family, who were Tutsi, was forced into hiding for three months, Consolee’s father and three brothers, as well as extended family members, were ruthlessly murdered. Rape was utilized as a weapon during the genocide, and many women and girls were victims. Consolee admitted that she was one of the many girls who had been raped; she later found out that she had contracted HIV.