Sydney, aged 15

“You have not done enough, you have never done enough, as long as there is something to which you can contribute.” – Dag Hammarskjöld 

The words had been read and examined time and time again, so that they had become engrained in her mind, an omnipresent thought that drove her strife for survival. At the moment, a chilly mid-December’s night in 1996, she found herself studying the phrase once more, the words resurrected by the dim candlelight dancing over the pages of her notebook. Francine Ingabire sat in a tent only big enough for her hunched body, on the outskirts of a Ugandan town called Cyahafi, just over the Rwandan border. After narrowly escaping the militia forces determined to execute her within a country where the peace-promoting words of Dag Hammarskjöld were disregarded as absurd ideals of a foreign world, she took grateful refuge in her makeshift shelter. Francine had spent 6 years pursuing peace within the turbulent state that had become her once cherished Rwanda, a hazardous vocation for a woman in such surroundings. Starting as an insignificant ambition to resolve neighbourhood disagreements, she now had a straightforward agenda with one goal: mending Rwanda.

Despite the distressed pleads of her parents (who had long since abandoned their country), she was determined that she could, along with combined willpower of thousands who shared her belief, bring about peace from the remains of Rwanda. In her view, one can never say that they ‘have never done enough’; and so, particularly initiated by the violent peak of 1994, incorporated into every nationwide violation of human rights and morality, came a tenfold of new purpose. The daughter of a Hutu political lawyer father and a Tutsi hairdresser mother, she had a personal connection that could be described as no less than romantic, with her country, and accordingly with the sufferers of the 1994 genocide. For every individual she and her self-entitled ‘Peace4Rwanda’ team managed to save from death’s grasp, or every rape victim they could successfully ameliorate, her tenacious mind envisioned the hundreds of other men, women and children being slaughtered mercilessly. No matter what they – she, Patrick, Ariane, David, Miriam and the 95 others who worked alongside them – managed to achieve and endure, it could never be enough; even a peaceful Rwanda would not see the glorious day on which the world would truly be at peace.

This quest for peace came with a burdensome price, she came to discover three months ago. Her increasingly successful efforts to shed light on the true crimes of Rwanda’s political and opposition groups – long after the ‘official end’ of the genocide – consequently caused their leaders to seek her execution. After months of hiding, fear escorted her to her current position: camouflaged into the Ugandan terrain, mere hours after secretly fleeing her country in attempt to expose its internal crisis.

Pen flying across the page, ink and paper merging to create a waterfall of courage-engendering words, Francine sat crouched in her tent writing her weekly letter to the association of supporters and activists she had kindled throughout the country. Though, for once, the letter would be sent not only to her ‘headquarters’ in a deserted factory in Kigali, but also to a global genocide-awareness foundation and a major international news network, both of which awaited her upcoming arrival in London. Howbeit, she still faced the mammoth task of arriving safely to Kisoro Airport, 10 kilometres in the distance from where she sat in her tent. Though angst lingered implacably on her nerves, she was brimming with pride. Finally, after 6 formidable years of relentless tribulation, she had finally drawn attention to the endeavours of ‘Peace4Rwanda’; at last, they were that much closer to their attaining their feat.

Putting an end to the candle’s descent towards extinction, she blew at the tip of the wick, leaving her alone in the darkness of her temporary home. Absorbing the serenity in the absolute silence of her surroundings, she realised the potency of authentic tranquillity. In that moment, and the bliss-filled ones that followed, she instilled a new resolve. She, like countless ambassadors of peace before her, would not rest until this feeling – of true peace – could be experienced by all. Even on this day, which she may well never come to see, she knew that there would be more goals to be met once more. For peace to truly be possible one must do more than expected, one must not only pave way for peace in their own generation, but lead the subsequent generations in following suit.

*This is a fictional story, excluding the event of genocide and turmoil in Rwanda, any resemblances to real persons or occurrences are unintentional.*

About UN News Geneva

Sharing entires to the United Nations Peace Essay competitions run by the Information Service in Geneva in 2011
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