Community Foundation of New Jersey

Students Mark 20 Years Since the Rwandan Genocide

December 4, 2014

Our friends at the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale Community College are true pillars in the New Jersey nonprofit community, working each day to address human and civil rights issues worldwide. The organization holds a permanent archive of survivors’ memorabilia; sponsors a Speakers’ Bureau of scholars, educators and Holocaust survivors; and hosts an Annual Colloquium on human rights issues, among many other initiatives. The diversity of programming has attracted a donor to the Community Foundation who has used his family’s Donor Advised Fund to support the organization’s good work.

This week, Chhange had a particularly extraordinary accomplishment, bringing an exhibit on the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC where it triggered important conversations among Members of Congress. We are proud of Chhange’s work in Washington, and encourage you to scroll down to learn more about this important exhibit.

Chhange Exhibit Showcased in Washington D.C.

A vibrant display memorializing the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide traveled to the nation’s capitol on Dec. 2, capping a massive, collaborative effort sponsored by the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale.

The 100 Days of Silence exhibit, created by Chhange in collaboration with more than 450 local middle school and high school students, was installed for the day in the Rayburn Foyer on Capitol Hill. The exhibit served as a striking reminder of the 1994 genocide, which claimed the lives of an estimated 800,000 Tutsi over the course of 100 days.

The atrocity, carried out by members of the Hutu majority, drew little attention from the global community.

“We wanted to engage the students in this project, because they were all born after the genocide and had no knowledge of it,” said Dale Daniels, executive director of Chhange.

The students, representing 26 local middle and high schools, helped create more than 70 life-sized human figures for the exhibit.

Each figure was personalized with different themes, images, and text to honor the lives that were cut short by the genocide, and those it continues to impact today.

“Our commemoration of this genocide is like no other: it joined together students, educators, community members, and genocide survivors to experience history through art,” said Chhange Coordinator Deborah Degnan.

“The result is a powerful, beautiful, haunting and hope-filled statement about genocide and humanity.”

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), one of the lead proponents of the installation, met members of the Chhange team in Washington and gave a number of his fellow congressmen a tour of the exhibit.

For coverage in NJ.com, click here: N.J. students remember Rwandan genocide with Capitol Hill display